I released an audible gasp as our taxi approached the Colosseum. The magnitude and beauty of the place was almost over whelming. I simply couldn't believe that I was actually about to step foot on such an ancient and historic place.
It is the largest amphitheater ever built and is considered one of the greatest works of architecture and engineering. And, construction began in 72 AD.....imagine that!
Built under the orders of the emperor Vespasian, it was completed under his successor and heir Titus, just eight years later in 80AD. To me, that's even more amazing. Just eight years to build something that will last and be admired for centuries.
I had read in my travel guides that the wait to get inside can be quite long but, my timing must have been perfect because within minutes after purchasing our tickets, we were inside this incredible structure where between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators gathered for gladiatorial contests and public events. When it was in use, it had a sand covered wooden floor build over the top of an elaborate underground structure called the "Hypogeum" which literally means 'underground'. Little remains of the original floor so you can see directly into the hypogeum and its network of tunnels and cages.
It truly is a masterpiece of architectural design and construction. I loved standing back and looking at it and picturing the activity around the place all those eons ago. Was it bustling with people around it just like it is today?
I could even picture a gladiator or two wandering about and guarding the entrance!