Tourists can now buy tickets to the Colosseum on the Internet and avoid long queues at the ancient Roman arena recently named one of the new seven wonders of the world, officials said Friday.
The online booking system allows visitors to pick a spot on a guided tour in their preferred language, giving them access to the 1st century arena and its temporary exhibitions as well as the nearby Palatine Hill, where Rome's emperors lived in luxury.
The €12.50 (US$17) tickets must be collected at a Colosseum counter dedicated to Internet bookings, said Manuela Collelli of the Pierreci company, which operates the box office for the monument. In a few days, the Web site will let tourists print the tickets, allowing them to go straight to the entrance, she said.
Each year, 4 million peoplepay to visit the Colosseum and the Palatine and Rome authorities have said they forecast 5 million visitors in 2007.
The Colosseum was inaugurated in A.D.80 by the Emperor Titus in a ceremony of games lasting 100 days. In the 50,000-seat arena, which has influenced the design of modern sports stadiums, thousands of gladiators dueled to the death and, according to traditional accounts, Christians were fed to the lions.