Today we had the best history lesson imaginable.We booked an excellent small group tour of the Colosseum, the Palatine and the Roman Forum. Four hours passed incredibly quickly as Francesca showed us around and pointed out all sorts of details we would not have noticed on our own. Our companions were 2 friendly American couples who were as keen as we were to learn about life as far back as around 70AD when the Colosseum was built.
The Colosseum did not always look like it does today. It was covered with patterns of multicoloured marble on the exterior and everywhere where important people went. For centuries the building was abandoned and anything valuable was stripped for use in other buildings, churches for example.
The Romans used a system like a modern lift to winch heavy blocks of building materials up into place. These were cages operated by slaves pushing a treadmill. These were also used during events to bring gladiators and wild animals up into the arena from the waiting areas in the basement.
There were five levels for spectators in the arena. The bottom one was for important people only, and the top one was for slaves. It could take 75,000 people and events held.
Roman civilisation thrived partly because of their advanced aqueduct system which enabled them to have free access to water. It was a symbol of extreme wealth, and was flaunted publicly with large pools (hot, warm and cold) and extravagant fountains all around the Palatine (the palace at the heart of ancient Rome).
I took many, many photos which will serve as a reminder of our visit.
Next stop is the Pantheon, one of the best preserved buildings from antiquity.