To the ancient Romans it was amphitheatrum, or the Amphitheater, and later called the Flavian Amphitheater for the dynasty that built it. The common name today came from a gigantic bronze statue next to it, and was first used centuries after the Colosseum was constructed.
A visit to the Colosseum today is an exercise in crowds and patience, but also reveals a long, deep, surprising history. It’s worth it. Central Rome is full of other wonders, too. Here are some of our favorite lesser-known sites immediately around the Colosseum, from a museum dedicated to Rome’s most iconic form of transportation to the ruins of the pleasure dome of Nero, one of Rome’s most notorious leaders.