New door makes Colosseum visitors ‘feel like gladiators’

A new entrance is set to open at Rome's Colosseum which will allow tourists to enter the building just like gladiators used to.

New door makes Colosseum visitors 'feel like gladiators'
A new entrance to the Colosseum is set to open this week. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli /AFP

Between July 15th and October 31st curious visitors will be able to pass through a new entrance at the ancient stadium's eastern curve, through the bowels of the stadium and directly out onto the arena floor.

“The new door will let people feel like gladiators of the third millennium,” Rome's archaeological superintendent, Francesco Prosperetti, told La Repubblica. “Whoever enters via this door will remember it for the rest of their lives,” he added.

As well as providing a new visitor experience, experts hope the new entrance – the Colosseum's third – will improve tourist flows inside the landmark, which welcomes 6.5 million visitors a year and suffers congestion problems and queues during the summer months.

Between 1,800 and 2,400 tourists are expected to enter via the new door each day, but for the time being at least, the entrance will be reserved for tour groups that have pre-booked a special tour with an official guide.

Tour groups of a maximum of 50 people will be taken into the heart of the Flavian Amphitheatre, which was completed in 80AD, for a tour lasting no more than 20 minutes.

According to Prospetti, the brief tour will be enough to satisfy the needs of most tourists' needs.

“A lot of the groups we have coming in are on day trips to the city and are looking to get in and out quickly to meet the needs of their jam-packed itineraries,” he said.

“Tourists who enter via the new door will still be able to further explore the rest of the structure once their tour is complete if they want to,” he added.

For four centuries after its completion the Colosseum was the scene of daily gladiator battles which were a popular form of entertainment in the city.

Gladiators enjoyed immense fame and fortune but given the perils of the job, which  involved frequent bouts to the death against ferocious animals or other gladiators, most only survived until their mid-20s.

Outside the stadium, where today's tour groups queue up to enter, hawkers once sold vials of popular gladiators sweat and blood to tourists as souvenirs. 

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Body of missing American tourist found in Rome’s River Tiber

The body of a missing 21-year-old tourist was found in the River Tiber on Thursday morning, according to media reports.

Body of missing American tourist found in Rome's River Tiber

Elijah Oliphant, from Dallas, Texas, was on holiday with his family in Rome when he went missing several days ago.

Oliphant’s parents reported his disappearance after he left his hotel room shortly after midnight on May 24th and did not return.

Hotel security footage showed him leaving the premises wearing a white undershirt and pyjama bottoms, which he was wearing when he was found.

Oliphant’s corpse was reportedly spotted by passersby near the Ponte Sisto bridge in Rome’s Trastevere district around 10am on Thursday morning. His body was positively identified by his parents.

Members of the fire brigade and river police who recovered the body say there were no obvious signs of violence, but an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death. Trastevere police are reportedly investigating the matter.

The Oliphant family had arrived in Rome for a holiday on May 23rd. When Elijah went missing the following day, his parents launched an urgent appeal to help find their son.

His disappearance was featured on the missing persons television show, Chi l’ha visto (‘Who’s seen them?’) on May 25th.

Several foreigners have been found drowned in the Tiber in recent years, though there are no indication that any of the incidents are linked.

In 2016, the body of 19-year-old American student Beau Solomon was recovered from the river.

Rough sleeper Massimo Galioto was charged involuntary manslaughter in the case, but was ultimately acquitted in 2020.

Prosecutors said that Galioto pushed Solomon in the course of a violent argument. Galioto’s defense team acknowledged that the two had argued but said the student had accidentally slipped.

In May 2019, 37-year-old Imen Chatbouri, a former athletics champion from Tunisia, was found dead in the Tiber after a night out. CCTV footage later showed she had been pushed from the Ponte Sisto bridge.

A then-26-year-old man whose advances she had rejected earlier that evening was convicted of her murder in November 2021.