We all know the Great Imperial Rome from movies, history lessons and other stories. It often feels like a fictional place which seems familiar and yet so far away. When visiting Rome for the first time, traveling back in time and seeing this place come to life is an unforgettable experience. And as we are often short on time, we want to see the most of it in only half a day.
The Colosseum, a huge amphitheater (actually the biggest ever built) dates back to 70 to 80 AD and is the most famous building of the Imperial Rome. It is estimated that at the time it could hold around 50.000 people that came to see all kinds of spectacles: gladiator fights, animal hunts and others.
Once you make it inside, you can go upstairs to look down on the theatre and admire the impressive architecture of the building. Imagine those 50.000 people around you cheering for the gladiators. The visit also leads you behind the scenes where you can see exhibitions, watch some videos and look through the big arches to enjoy the view on the surroundings outside the Colosseum.
You can then have a closer look to the scene by going downstairs and take the gladiators point of view. Look at the walls around you that rise in the sky.
Count one hour to one hour and a half for this visit (without the audioguide) before leaving the building to continue the visit at Palatine Hill.
Palatine Hill, nowadays, is the centermost hill of the seven hills in Rome. It is also where the city has its origin. Indeed, people lived here as from the 10th century BC.
Just behind the ticket counter, go to the right to see the lower part of the hill, where you can walk around the Hippodrome of Domination, the Palatine Stadium used for all kinds of entertainment for the Emperor. It seems like many people don’t visit this part, as on a Saturday morning I was almost alone when walking through the Stadium and its surroundings.
Continue your visit by going towards the entrance and walk up the stairs to the upper part. This is where you will come across the other tourists again. There is a first platform with a view on the Stadium. This is probably why it is so calm down there. You can then just follow the path and the crowd in order to see the housing and gardens before arriving on a huge platform with a breathtaking view on the Imperial Rome.
From Palatine Hill you can directly go down the stairs in order to arrive in the Roman Forum, which was the center of the normal life in Ancient Rome. Nowadays, the ruins of important governmental buildings of the time are still visible and quite impressive to see.
After this history marathon, you definitely need a break, at least I did. I decided to have lunch in one of the many Italian restaurants in the Jewish Quarter with its small and winding streets.
Altare della Patria
If you are not too tired after all these visits, I would recommend to continue to the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II and its Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) which is just a stone’s throw away. This huge building that looks like a modern forum was built between 1885 and 1911 in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Italian Unification.
Climb up the stairs and enjoy the view on the Piazza Venezia. You can then pass through the doors to arrive on the other side. This is where you can have a most beautiful view on the Imperial Rome and its ruins. If you are not travelling on a budget, I would recommend the elevator which leads you right on the top of the building, offering you a breathtaking 360° view (but also costs 10€ per Person).