Rome: Colosseum opens its top levels to public

Beginning November 1, visitors to the Roman Colosseum will be able to walk up to the amphitheater's highest gallery for the first time in 40 years, after a lengthy restoration that took years to complete.

Visitors to the Colosseum can now enjoy even more of the ancient amphitheater and the spectacular views it offers of Rome. Included in the visit is a connecting hallway that has never before been open to tourists. Visitors will have to book a guided tour, through which groups of a maximum of 25 people at a time will be allowed to the top levels.

Italy's Culture Minister Dario Franceschini officially opened the roughly 40-meter-high panoramic terrace on Tuesday. The fourth and fifth levels of the Colosseum, standing at 48.5 meters (159 feet) high, have been the site of restoration efforts since 2010. The works cost about 1.5 million euros ($1.75 million).

Kolosseum in Rom

During ancient Roman times, the upper terraces of the Colosseum were the cheap seats, since they were farthest away from the gladiators and animals spectacle. But the seats boasted a breathtaking view – not only of the gladiator battles far below, but of the heart of the empire.  

"It is an incredible view of the Colosseum and Rome, which the visitor will remember as one of the most beautiful things he has seen in his life," Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said.

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Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was the biggest amphitheater built during the Roman empire. Roughly 6.4 million people visit the Colosseum last year, making it one of the most visited attractions in the world.

fm/eg (dpa, AP, AFP)