The Colosseum and Roman Forum: In Pictures

The Colosseum

Colosseum, Rome, Italy

It's bizarre, the first time you walk out of a metro station to find the Colosseum towering over you.  Truth be told, every time we did it, I got the same dizzying feeling. Stepping out from the crowds and gloom of a metro tube into the shadow of this ancient behemoth feels like a great anachronism.  

The interior of the Colosseum in Rom, Italy is a staggering sight.

There are so many stories here.  Stories, of course, about gladiator battles and staged sea battles.  But, those are a tiny sliver of its history.  It began with an emperor trying to curry favor with his people, in the wake of a terribly unpopular leader.  But its tale is long and varied, from use as a cemetery and fortress, to a thriving medieval community of houses and workshops.  

Standing in it's shell today, you can read centruries of repurposing and neglect in its remains.  Denuded of its marble facade, its walls are pitted with the pockmarks of scavengers harvesting bronze from within the stonework.  

What it feels like to stare into the labyrinth of tunnels and doorways beneath the floor of hte Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
The Colosseum in Rome, Italy is all about arches.

The Colosseum is, at its core, a  celebration of arches.  It is arches piled on arches:
A labaryth of arches below ground that led gladiators and animals up onto the stage.  
Arches that opened to senator's viewing seats.  
Arches that formed the vomitorium, that could empty the Colosseum of 65,000 people in less than 10 minutes.

I found myself drawn, again and again to those arches, thousands of years of history framing the Rome of today.

Arches frame beautiful views of the city throughout the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
Arches frame beautiful views of the city throughout the Colosseum in Rome, Italy.
An arch in the Colosseum frames the Arch of Constantine in Rome, Italy.

The Roman Forum

View of the Roman Forum, looking toward the temple of Castor and Pollux.

If the Colosseum is a testament to arches, the Forum is a cemetery of columns.  Some still stretch skyward in lonely, long forgotten vigil.  Others lay, toppled to the ground.  Stone sentinels, silent witnesses.

Broken relief work in the Roman Forum, Rome, Italy
Well in the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy
Statues atop a temple in the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.
Temple of Saturn.  Rome, Italy
The Arch of Titus has detailed relief inside depicting the spoils of Jerusalem. Roman Forum, Rome, Italy.

There is a hazy sense, here, of what was.  The Roman Forum is a million stories in jumbled bits.  Home fires attended by vestal virgins.  Romulus's burial ground.  Cicero's speeches and Ceasar's cremation.  It all echoes in broken strains through these 

Statue of a Vestal Virgin Roman Forum, Rome, Italy
View of the Roman Forum, standing at the Temple of Saturn
Views of the temple of Castor and Pollux, hearth of the Vestal Virgins, and Arch of Septimius Severus in the Roman Forum in Rome, Italy.
All Roads Lead to Rome.  Walkway in the Roman Forum.

Walking along the Via Sacra, is equal measures grounding and surreal.  Here, in this place, it is easy to believe that all roads really do lead to Rome.