Colosseum to open for night tours

Earlier this week I read with interest and excitement the news that the Colosseum is to open for night tours.

Colosseum interior

The skeletal remains of the Colosseum by day

It will be opening to small groups of visitors each Saturday evening for seven weeks starting on 21 August, which is excellent news because as it happens, I will be in Rome on a Saturday falling within this period.  I would imagine that it will be highly oversubscribed, but it’s worth a shot!

The lucky few to see inside the Colosseum after dark will be following a well-trodden path.  For the Victorians, a stroll about the Colosseum by moonlight was very much the done thing, thanks to the immortal words of Lord Byron in “Manfred”:

The stars are forth, the moon above the tops
Of the snow-shining mountains. Beautiful!
I linger yet with Nature, for the night
Hath been to me a more familiar face
Than that of man; and in her starry shade
Of dim and solitary loveliness,
I learn’d the language of another world.
I do remember me, that in my youth,
When I was wandering,—upon such a night
I stood within the Coliseum’s wall
Midst the chief relics of almighty Rome.

Colosseum night view

The Colosseum at night

Inspired by these words, Murray’s Handbook to Central Italy, first published in 1843 and the essential companion to any Victorian traveller, recommended the twilight hours as the best time to view the Colosseum.  This view continued to be propounded throughout the nineteenth century, and night-time visits became so popular that some entrepreneurial type began putting on private light shows for paying tourists, who marvelled at the Colosseum being lit up with red and blue lights.

Somehow, I think that I would probably prefer today’s tours for their greater historical awareness… So wish me luck!

And thus ends what will probably be the first of many entries devoted entirely to Rome’s most famous monument.

About Rachel Ingram

I graduated from Oxford University in 2009 with an MA in Classical Archaeology and Ancient History from St John's College. After graduating I worked as a Geographic Researcher at, spending lots of time researching and writing travel guides to worldwide destinations, developing my copywriting skills. After working as a copywriter and content consultant at (formerly SEOptimise), where I most enjoyed working with travel clients, I went self-employed. I now divide my time between freelance copywriting and running the business I set up with my boyfriend - - selling aviation gift experiences. In my spare time I'm training for a Private Pilot's Licence, and I also enjoy travelling, wine and baking. My favourite authors are Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Bill Bryson.
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2 Responses to Colosseum to open for night tours

  1. Renée says:

    Thanks for the great photos. My reading group just finished Daisy Miller and I was wondering which lines from “Manfred” would Mr. Winterbourne be murmuring as he entered the Colosseum… Renée

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