One day we took a guided tour with a guy named Kim, who is a seminary student from the US. Our friend Barbara knew about him through her brother, who had taken tours with him in the past. At first, Rich and I weren't really sure we were that keen on a tour, thinking we could wander around by ourselves just as well, but we decided to go along. In the end, we were really glad we did because Kim had so much knowledge about Roman history and early church history that it was very interesting and enlightening. We started at Palatine Hill, which had a large amount of ruins. I am still amazed that people can just walk through these remains of so long ago. It seems like most things in the US are behind glass or behind ropes or closed off in exhibits, but we were able to walk freely through most places in Rome.
Palatine Hill is the centermost of the seven hills of Rome and one of the most ancient parts of the city. It's above the Roman Forum and looks down on the Circus Maximus on the other side.
Excavations have led researchers to believe that people lived in this area from around 1000 BC.
Roman emperors Augustus, Tiberius, and Domitian lived in residences on Palatine Hill. Augustus also built a temple to Apollo on the grounds.
Look, these pieces are still just strewn on the ground!
Hippodrome or stadium
Then we looked down on the remains of the Forum and later walked through. It was HUGE. I had no idea!
The Forum was the center of Roman public life for centuries, called the most celebrated meeting place in history.
The grounds of the forum contained many government buildings, temples, shrines and monuments. Rich's sister Vesta was excited to see the Temple of Vesta among the ruins. :)
Look how much ground this covers!
Last, we went to the Colosseum, another very impressive structure -- said to be the largest amphitheater ever built.
The Colosseum was said to hold 50,000 to 80,000 spectators who watched gladiators, mock sea battles, animal hunts, and executions. Although many believe that Christians were killed by lions in the Colosseum, this is disputed and there is no proof that these killings actually took place here. Some Christians may have been executed as common criminals for refusing reverence to the Roman gods, but most Christians who were martyred were killed at the Circus Maximus.
I had to get a picture of this guy watching the four women who were taking a little break from their sightseeing. :)
Imagine standing in a place that has stood for so many centuries and envisioning all that has happened here over time.
After leaving the rest of the gang at the Colosseum, Rich and I wandered around the area for a little while, got some lunch, and then headed back to the apartment where Mom had decided to stay for a day of rest after we wore her out in Florence!