Home to the most powerful and formidable empire in ancient history, Rome is a city that still embraces its past. From the Colosseum, to the Circus Maximus, to the Pantheon, the fallen Roman empire is still alive and well everywhere you look. Let Shore Trips guide you through Rome, and discover a world you’ve only ever read about!
Home of the ancient gladiators who fought for their lives, the Colosseum is nearly 2,000 years old and still a top sight to see in Rome. It could hold up to 80,000 spectators, cheering on their favorite warrior as they battled animals or other gladiators. After the fall of the empire in the 6th century, it was essentially abandoned during the Middle Ages. While the Colosseum is currently undergoing a 3-year renovation, it is still open for tours. The top tiers are only available as a guided tour, and you’ll need to buy a separate ticket from the regular admission ticket.
Another ancient stadium, Circus Maximus, held almost twice as many spectators as the Colosseum, almost 150,000. This stadium was used for chariot races, and actually favored over the Colosseum because women were allowed inside. Recently the Rolling Stones played in front of the ruins in June of 2014 for over 73,000 fans. Today, the stadium is a park, and while time has eroded some of the structure, it’s impressive mass is still easy to see today.
The Thermal Baths of Caracella were the second largest Roman baths, built during the 3rd century over the course of 6 years. The baths covered 62 acres and could hold up to 1,600 bathers. Today, the baths are mostly an entertainment venue, and during the summer it’s the home of the Rome Opera company. Visitors can tour the baths, but access is limited in some places in order to preserve the mosaic floors.
One of the earliest and most critical roads, the Ancient Appian Way connected Rome to Brindisi. The name “Appia” came from Appius Claudius Caecus, who laid the first 90 kilometers of road. This road was the key to Rome’s many ancient conquests, providing a route for supplies to be carted between bases. The Appian Way is also where Spartacus’s troops were finally defeated by the Romans, and 6,000 slaves were crucified along the road. Underneath the road, there are 300 kilometers of catacombs where early Christians and Jewsburied their deceased.
The Catacombs of Rome, were constructed during the 3rd century as the solution to the lack of land above-ground in which to bury the dead. Forty different catacombs were built, some underneath the Appian Way, by Christians and Jews out of the soft white volcanic rock, or tufo, because the law forbid burials within city limits. Because non-pagans were usually lower class or slaves, they lacked the resources to buy land outside of Rome to bury their dead, so they constructed the catacombs. The different catacombs have been named based on the martyrs that may have been buried there.
Still standing after over 1900 years, the Pantheon was originally a temple built by Hadrian and now functions as a church. The concrete dome is the largest of its kind ever built, without reinforcement. Some of the original materials were stripped to be used in St. Peter’s Basilica, such as the bronze roof tiles. An opening in the roof called the oculus served to represent the connection between the gods and the temple.
Your tour begins with the Ancient Rome of Emperors: Capitoline Hill, the famous Colosseum (from the outside), Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus, the Thermal Baths of Caracalla, Ancient Appian Way, the Catacombs, the Pantheon, and Aula Ottagona. There is also the Renaissance and Baroque Rome of Popes, including the Trevi Fountain, the beautiful Spanish Steps, St. Peter in Chains, Navona Square, Farnese Square, Janiculum Hill, and, of course, St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican will be our final stop, but remember that there are days when its entrance is blocked. We may have to substitute a site when that happens.
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