When Rome sightseeing at the Colosseum, be sure to take the time to cross the street and peer into the area known as the Ludus Magnus. Two thousand years ago, this was the largest and most prestigious of Rome’s gladiatorial training schools.
The Ludus Magnus was built during the reign of Emperor Domitian (81-96 AD). Ancient records of its construction exist, but it had been built over and its exact location remained a mystery until it was unearthed in an excavation in 1937.
Renderings based on excavations and ancient records are believed to be quite accurate. As the image below illustrates, the Ludus Magnus once boasted s central practice arena where gladiators learned and trained, surrounded by limited seating for spectators. Rooms around the training area contained barracks for the gladiators and storage for the equipment. Underground tunnels connected the Ludus Magnus with the Colosseum.
Today, just over half of the arena and the barracks remain. The brick-work of the present-day ruins would have been covered with marble at the time of Ancient Rome.
Peer down at the remains of the school that once trained Rome’s best gladiators. Better yet, enjoy stunning views of the Ludus Magnus and the Colosseum over a glass of wine from the rooftop terrace of the adjacent Hotel Gladiatori .
If you are visiting the Ludus Magnus, you are just three blocks away from the portico marking the spot where Pope Joan’s true identity was discovered. Why not enjoy a short stroll in the pretty neighborhood of Celio in order to visit this curious medieval site?