A trip to Italy isn’t complete without a trip to the famous Colosseum, and you’ll need a guided tour if you really want to appreciate the site’s full history and beauty. While many large group tours may offer general tours around the ancient amphitheatre, if you’re looking for some lesser-known history and access to parts of the Colosseum unavailable to the general public, a private tour is your best bet.
So, what are some lesser-known aspects of the Colosseum that you might learn about on a private tour? Let’s take a look!
What is the Colosseum?
For the uninitiated, the Colosseum is one of the most recognizable monuments in Rome; it was once used for gladiator fights, public executions, theatrical performances, and even animal hunts, as well as a variety of other spectacles during the Roman period. The amphitheatre could hold up to 50,000 spectators at once, and was the site of some of the most brutal public entertainment in history. Known as the largest amphitheatre in the world, the Colosseum welcomes around 4 million visitors every year.
What secret areas of the Colosseum will I see with a private tour?
Booking a private tour isn’t just about getting skip-the-line privileges and an expert storyteller to guide you through the site – it’s also about getting access to some of the lesser-known aspects of the Colosseum:
On a private tour, you’ll have access to parts of the Colosseum usually off-limits to the general public, and this includes the labyrinth of underground tunnels and chambers known as the hypogeum. The hypogeum was once used to store wild animals and allow gladiators to enter the arena from every angle, and was also often used to prepare them for events. The hypogeum was also where prisoners were held before they were taken out into the arena, so it’s full of dark and bloody history. If you’re passionate about Ancient Rome, this is something you must see when in Rome – and you won’t get access when you book generic tours of the ancient amphitheatre.
The gladiator’s entrance
When you book private Colosseum tours with What a Life Tours, you’ll slip the long waiting lines and gain entry to the amphitheatre via the back door, also known as the gladiator’s entrance. You’ll stand where so many gladiators took their final steps – a moment you’re unlikely to forget, and an experience that isn’t possible if you only book a large group tour.
Arena floor and top tiers
While the general public isn’t allowed access to the arena floor, you’ll be able to stand where the gladiators once stood when you visit the Colosseum with a private tour guide. Not only will you be able to walk across the history-filled arena floor, but your expert tour guide will be able to give you unique and expert insight on historic battles, animal fights, gladiator battles and more. You’ll also get to visit the top tiers of the Colosseum, giving you a magnificent view of the historic arena floor – and commentary from your tour guide that will make the experience that little bit more special.
Is it worth getting a private tour of the Colosseum?
We certainly think so! After all, the Colosseum is steeped in bloody and cruel history, and much of what you read in history books or see in documentaries is just half the story. Your tour guide won’t simply guide you through the site and list off facts or stories that you likely already know; our tour guides are masterful storytellers, who will transport you back to Ancient Rome with tales of bloody animal fights, deathly battles, and more.
Plus, don’t forget that the Colosseum isn’t just the amphitheatre; you’ll also want to explore the surrounding areas, including the Roman Forum, the Arch of Constantine, Palatine Hill, and the Temple of Caesar. It’s best to visit these areas of the Colosseum with a guide, who will be able to offer expert insight while also answering any of your questions throughout the tour.
And when it comes to questions, you won’t be limited in the same way that you would be with a group tour; given that most private Colosseum tours accommodate between 5-12 people, you’ll be able to explore the historic site in a more intimate, personal and relaxed setting, conversing with your tour guide and questioning them as often as you please.
Do you need tickets for the Colosseum?
Yes, you’ll need a ticket or a pre-booked reservation in order to visit the Colosseum and be granted entry. Don’t forget that you’ll need to pass through security, so always read up on the site’s prohibited items before coming.
How long is the wait for the Colosseum?
You can expect to wait around 1-2 hours to gain entry to the Colosseum – and that’s with a general ticket! However, if you opt for a private skip the line tour, you’ll be given priority access and gain entry to the Colosseum as soon as you arrive (after passing through security checks).
Why is half the Colosseum gone?
In 1349, Rome was rocked – quite literally – by a large earthquake, which altered the structure of the Colosseum significantly. Today, only around one third of the site’s original structure remains intact.