This summer has taken me to various European countries which were new to me. While I have travelled to Italy before, this year I had the chance to visit Rome, the countries capital, where I discovered plentiful spectacular landmarks and it’s easy to see why this is such a popular landmark. How amazing it would be to live in this city, where grand ancient structures can be found amongst modern homes and streets, and the historic is in such harmony with the new.
The most iconic landmark in Rome is of course the Colosseum, a world famous amphitheatre, where the ancient roman gladiators would once have fought with lions and other fierce animals, as well as each other. This building stands out as you walk down the Via dei Fori Imperiali from the Piazza Venezia, and the historic significance of this building ceases to impress you, the sheer scale of it will for sure. With 48 metres of height, and a length of 189 metres, it is of similar size to some of today’s major sports pitches. That a building of this magnitude could be made in the Roman times, around 2000 years ago, is incredible, especially considering the limited tools and technology available, and it’s even more mind-blowing that it’s still standing today.
In the roman times, the building’s purpose was as a sort of sports pitch where spectators would come to watch gladiators fighting animals and each other. It would also be used for short plays, songs and dances in between these competitions. The gladiators would either have chosen to compete themselves, and would therefore have trained for the games, or would be criminals who were forced to compete as a sort of sadistic punishment. What was also incredible was the use of stage mechanics this early in society. Underneath the central performance area were lots of small corridors, within which props and animals would be kept, before a complex system of gears, pulleys and trapdoors would move them up onto the stage. Around the edges of the arena, in the many seating areas, archeologists have found evidence of games being played amongst spectators, including gambling over which of the gladiators would win, though this was thought to have been prohibited.
Alongside the Colosseum is found a collection of other Ruins leftover from Ancient Rome, which was the capital of the Roman Empire across the world. These were equally as impressive as the Colosseum itself because, though they are much more dilapidated, the sheer amount of preserved space and material left over from the city makes one rejoice, and feel connected to the past in some way. It certainly gives Rome a very unique and beautiful style when compared with most modern cities. Part of these ruins was the Roman Forum, where public announcements and trials would have taken place, and around which much of Roman public life would have been based.
Also nearby is a small prison cell which now stands underneath a church. To look at this tiny chamber is no marvel, but yet it is has a landmark status because of its history, and significance particularly for those following the Christian faith. The Mamertine Prison has long been believed to be the place where St. Peter, one of the apostles, was locked away before he was eventually crucified on the spot where the Basilica in his name now stands. Yet, in the past decade, more work from archaeologists has revealed murals that back up the belief that he was imprisoned here, along with St Paul.
Whether you’re a fan of history or not, there is no denying the iconic status of landmarks like the Colosseum and the ancient Roman ruins, and every year these sights bring millions of tourists to Italy’s capital city. But these, most famous landmarks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what Rome has to offer, so whether it’s now, or in ten years’ time, this city should be on anyone’s list of places to visit.
Image from: http://arounddeglobe.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Colosseum.jpg