The 9th and 10th of October are the last two opportunities to enjoy the extraordinary night openings of the Colosseum this year, suggested by the Soprintendenza. The special series of guided tours called The moon over the Colosseum (“La luna sul Colosseo”) offer the invaluable opportunity to discover the magic splendor of the Flavian amphitheater in the silent and dark evening hours. This experience reveals itself as truly touching as the shady and mysterious charm of the ancient monument will entrap you in a fascinating spectacle, letting you to live again the unique emotions felt by the travelers and artists right there, during the nights of past centuries.
Inside the amphitheater
The adventurous path begins with the entrance to the Colosseum through the arcades at the first level and the emotion will rise till you’ll find yourself just at the heart of the largest amphitheater in the world. You’ll be able to walk on the little portion of the re-built arena on the eastern side (it was a wooden floor which was handily covered with sand, hence the Latin denomination), surrounded by the imposing remains of the cavea, once provided with copious rows that could approximately hold forty thousand spectators at least.
And the silence of that moment will clash with the din of ancient times, when excited Romans attended there popular shows like munera (gladiatorial fights), venationes (either wild or exotic animal hunts), re-enactments of famous battles and even mock maritime ones called naumachiae.
The underground structures
The exploration of the Colosseum continues with the thrilling access to the so-called hypogeum. The underground spaces were organized in several cellars along fifteen corridors, parallel to the main gallery running along the major axis of the amphitheater ellipse. Restored several time during the Colosseum activity, the cellars were originally made of tuff and bricks and they served to the practical arrangement of the shows, also storing the necessary equipment and housing the cages for the animals.
Walking through the corridors, from times to times enveloped in the darkness, and throwing light on the path at your best, you will arrive to the reconstruction of a goods-hoist, in place to illustrate how worked the swift moving of gladiators, animals and machineries from the underground level up to the trap doors on stage. The system of diversified goods-lifts moved by winches and supplied with ropes and ramps was based in fact below the level of the arena, both along the side corridors and in the middle cellars. This ingenious system contributed to the astonishing impact of the spectacles, assuring the copious flow of animals and gladiators as well as the quick changes of scenographic settings.
You find it here
Starting from the 1st of April 2017, Through Eternity tour operator is one of the first to have the exclusive for offering private and group tours of the Colosseum by night. Contact them for further information here;
Web page about the Colosseum with usual opening hours and a brief description on the Soprintendenza website;
To deepen the relationship between the 18th-19th century travelers and artists and the Colosseum by night, read: Nicola Moorby, ‘The Colosseum, Rome, by Moonlight 1819 by Joseph Mallord William Turner’, catalogue entry, October 2009, in David Blayney Brown (ed.), J.M.W. Turner: Sketchbooks, Drawings and Watercolours, Tate Research Publication, December 2012, Online [accessed 09 October 2015].
A breathtaking view from the top
Finally you’ll climb into the second level of the amphitheater and walk around its perimeter, from where you can admire the whole cavea in its entire splendor.
The evocative spectacle of the Colosseum itself has always fascinated travelers and artists, who expressed a predilection for the nocturnal contemplation of the ancient Roman ruins. Especially in the nineteenth century, foreign enthusiasts like Madame de Staël, Mariana Starke, Hugh Williams and Lord Byron wrote enchanted lines and artists like Turner and Carl Gustav Carus executed evocative depictions of the magnificent amphitheater by night.
To the mighty remains in decay highlighted by the atmospheric effect of silvery moonlight alternated to the dark shadows where the Colosseum hides the ghosts from its troubled past, the Scottish artist Hugh Williams dedicated these words in Travels in Italy, Greece and the Ionian Islands (1820):
The innumerable open arches, with the moon beams shining through them, were like the eyes of past ages looking upon them.
Once embellished with mosaics, marbles, murals and stucco decorations, the Colosseum suspended the entertainment of the Romans in the 6th century and changed its function and aspect several times. It was also reused as a huge materials deposit since the Middle Ages but thereafter it never lose its landmark importance as iconic monument, continuing to represent the highest reference for Renaissance and even Baroque architecture onwards.
The Colosseum has never ceased to amaze and it still fiercely stands in mutual dialog within its city, as you will experience from a different perspective ascending on the belvedere Valadier. From there, you’ll embrace with your eyes the stunning scenery presented by the lively lights of Rome at night, interrupted by the shadows of the Palatine Hill. And you’ll stand speechless on the threshold between past and present, listening to the narrating silence of history.
This is not a sponsored post, we just payed the tickets for this tour as every common visitor.