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Rome Officials to Open Colosseum to Tourists after Dark
A view of Rome's ancient Colosseum. REUTERS/Tony Gentile.
ROME (AP).- Gazing at the Colosseum in moonlight can make for a romantic date. Soon tourists will be able to stroll inside the ancient arena on Saturday nights for a limited time only.

Rome officials announced on Friday that for seven straight Saturdays starting Aug. 21, visitors can tour the Colosseum with an archaeologist. They will enter in groups of 40 people maximum from 9 p.m. till midnight.

Normally, the monument is open only during daytime, but last summer also saw some nighttime tours.

This year, night tours will also be offered at the Baths of Caracalla on Saturdays from Aug. 21 until Oct. 23. The towering ruins of the ancient thermal baths has hosted evening entertainment, including the 1990 "Three Tenors" concert with Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras.

The Colosseum or Roman Coliseum, originally the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an elliptical amphitheatre in the center of the city of Rome, Italy, the largest ever built in the Roman Empire. It is considered one of the greatest works of Roman architecture and Roman engineering.

Occupying a site just east of the Roman Forum, its construction started between 70 and 72 AD under the emperor Vespasian and was completed in 80 AD under Titus, with further modifications being made during Domitian's reign (81–96). The name "Amphitheatrum Flavium" derives from both Vespasian's and Titus's family name (Flavius, from the gens Flavia).

Capable of seating 50,000 spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology. The building ceased to be used for entertainment in the early medieval era. It was later reused for such purposes as housing, workshops, quarters for a religious order, a fortress, a quarry, and a Christian shrine.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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The Colosseum | Rome | The Flavian Amphitheatre |

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