Colosseum tour with the church of San Clemente
One of the things that makes Rome so unique is its stratification. While here you may hear that Rome is like lasagna or like an onion to unpeel. Rome is a city of layers, of many different heights and
depths. Ten to fifteen feet down are the remains of late antique Rome (between 1500 and 800 years old) and another fifteen feet below that is another.
This Colosseum tour then combines the traditional sights visited during the standard Ancient Rome Tour – Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum – with the medieval church of San Clemente, only a few minutes walking distance from the Colosseum.
There are a few places like the Church of San Clemente in Rome where you can clearly see some of these layers and understand better how the eternal city transformed over the centuries simply by taking down outdated buildings and spreading debris to build something else on top.
Ideally (depending on your slot entrance at the Colosseum) the tour starts from the Roman Forum, the ancient city political and religious center, with its grand temples and civic buildings such as the temple to the Divine Julius Ceasar and the Arch of Titus. Then we will head towards the Palatine Hill, one of most important hills in Rome since it’s here that according to tradition Rome was founded by Romulus on April 21st, 753 BC and it’s here that emperors lived. After seeing the ruins of the imperial palace, we will visit the Colosseum where you will revive the stories of these bloody shows, exotic animals, mock sea battles and gladiators of course.
We will end with the Church of San Clemente to unpeel the onion that Rome is. San Clemente is one of the most stunning medieval churches in Rome with its exquisite mosaics and paintings but it hides 2 more levels underneath its magnificent marble floor. Below the “modern” 12th century church is the original basilica, which dates back to the end of the 4th century and was abandoned toward the end of the 11th century. One layer further into the earth are the remnants of a 1st century Roman building and a temple dedicated to the Persian god Mythra, called Mythras by the Romans, the bull-slayer. The cult of the sun god Mithras, was spread widely across the Graeco-Roman world but it’s a ‘mystery cult’, meaning only the initiates knew exactly what happened in the temple.