The Colosseum by Night ©Solange Hando
Started in 72 AD by Roman Emperor Vespasian and completed by his son, the Colosseum is indeed the pride of Rome and its top attraction, most beautiful at night when the crowds have gone and in the soft golden light, you almost forget the deadly games once held within its walls.
Massive and oval shaped, rising 50 metres above the ground, it could hold 60,000 spectators, all carefully segregated, while the Emperor occupied his seat in the centre of the podium.
Close-up of the pits in the Colosseum ©Solange Hando
It is said that during the 100 days of celebrations following the inauguration, some 9,000 wild animals were killed. Then the arena would be cleaned and filled with water so naval battles could ensure further entertainment. Here gladiators fought and died and most probably early Christians.
Inside the Colosseum
Over the centuries, the amphitheatre was put to different uses, medieval entertainment, housing, workshops, fortress and quarry.
In the 18th century, Pope Benedict XIV declared it a sacred site where a way of the Cross would remember Christian martyrs. To this day, every Good Friday, a torch-lit procession led by the Pope follows the sacred way.
The Arch of Constantine seen from the Colosseum ©Solange Hando
Erected to celebrate Constantine's victory over Maxentius, this triumphal arch is decorated with a strange mixture of earlier works and spans the 'Victorious Way' used by emperors entering the city.
So close to the Colosseum, it's another reminder of this ancient civilisation, so cultured and advanced in many ways yet so cruel at times and filled by a war-like spirit to conquer the world.