Know All About Colosseum Underground Tour | History, Highlights & What To Expect

Colosseum Underground tour

The Colosseum, along with the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, has become an unmissable part of the Rome experience. The Colosseum, in particular, has come to be known as a symbol of Rome and is the most visited attraction in the city. Once a spectacular arena that hosted gladiator battles and animal hunts, the Colosseum now serves as a reminder of how far we have come while showcasing the masterful craftsmanship and architecture of the ancient Roman era. 

To learn more about the Colosseum, opt for a guided tour of special areas like the Underground section! This area was where gladiators stood, anxiously, sweating, waiting for their turn to enter the arena and engage in a fight till death. Read on to know more about the Colosseum Underground Tours.

Why Take A Colosseum Underground Tour?

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  • Learn the incredible history of the Colosseum - A prime reason why a Colosseum underground tour should be an essential part of your experience in the attraction is the history associated with this section. Think of the Colosseum underground as the backstage area where all the behind-the-scenes work before a big gladiator fight happened.
  • Explore a different face of the Colosseum - Another reason why you should opt for a Colosseum underground tour is the new perspective of the Colosseum that you will get by exploring the underground. The anticipation and worry, coupled with the cramped space, make the underground a truly harrowing place.
  • Experience the Colosseum like a gladiator - Apart from learning about the history and actual mechanics of how gladiator battles were organized back in the day, another reason to visit the Colosseum underground is to get a real sense of what it felt like to be a gladiator before a match to the death.

What To Expect On A Colosseum Underground Tour?

Your Colosseum Underground tour will cover other special zones, including the Arena. The arena floor, also known as the stage, is where you'll begin your tour. Offering a unique perspective of the Colosseum, this newly-constructed section is a great place to start. You'll enter the Colosseum arena through the morbidly-named Gate of Death and witness the massive amphitheatre from the gladiators’ point of view, where they once fought for their lives.

Next, you'll get guided to the actual Colosseum underground. Given that the original arena was destroyed, a majority of the basement is exposed to natural elements and has corroded as a result. A good chunk of the section is still preserved and protected, offering visitors a peek at the holding cells that contained animals or gladiators. The Colosseum basement also features lifts that have been reconstructed to allow visitors to truly experience how the pre-show environment functioned.

Given just how popular the Colosseum underground tour is, and the fact that the Colosseum can accommodate only 3000 people at a time, it’s best to take advantage of the skip-the-line feature in your tours.

Highlights Of The Colosseum Underground Area

Under the Colosseum, there was a whole new world completely different from the happenings on the Arena. Read ahead and get a sneak peek into what the Colosseum Underground once was and how it worked.

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The Hypogea

Gladiator fights and animal hunts were staged in the Arena for which the underground, also known as the Hypogea, was the waiting area. It was divided into two levels and was connected by a series of corridors and tunnels leading out into the Colosseum Arena. The Hypogea is like the backstage of the Colosseum, the place where everything behind-the-scenes takes place. It was also the holding area for the animals that were caged before and after the events. The Colosseum underground was always filled with people who worked to prepare for performances, constantly shifting scenes, transporting props and tending to animals.

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Wooden Elevators

Transporting animals, staging equipment and even the gladiator in line for fights to the Arena and back down was done using a number of wooden elevators. These elevators were hidden beneath the massive amphitheatre. The concept and execution of these wooden elevators are definitely considered an incredible architectural feat. They were articulated with a system of inclines and counterweights. The elevators also connect to the tunnels and corridors that run beneath the main staging area.

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Tunnels And Monumental Entrances

The elaboarte tunnel system that runs beneath the arena also had a interlocked corridors and passageways that led up to the main stage. The Emperor also had his own separate tunnels and Vestal Virgins to enter and leave the Colosseum in order to avoid interactions with other spectators. These tunnels we also directly connected to their imperial residences. Even the tiles used in them were different from the others and had elaborate decorations. Beyond the tunnels, the underground structure also had two monumental arches for gladiators to enter the arena.

History of the Colosseum Underground

Construction began under the rule of Emperor Vespasian between 70-72 AD and was completed under his heir, Titus, in 80 AD. The underground, also known as the hypogeum, was not part of the original construction. It was later ordered to be built by Emperor Domitian.

Construction work was completed approximately 10 years after the arena was inaugurated. The Colosseum underground area featured a system of tunnels with two major corridors and 80 vertical shafts to provide instant access to the arena. The Colosseum underground area was restructured and constructed at least twelve different times; it also boasted a considerable number of machines, including elevators and hydraulic mechanisms.

Over centuries, the Colosseum underground area was completely submerged. Excavation work began at the end of the 19th Century and continued after the 1930s. The Underground opened to tourists for the first time in only 2010, with limited slots. Given the popularity of the Colosseum Underground tour, it can only be explored with a licensed tour guide.

Choose Your Colosseum Tickets

Guided Tour of the Colosseum Underground with Roman Forum & Gladiator Arena

Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Guided Tour
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Combo (Save 10%): Tickets to Colosseum & Vatican Museums with Sistine Chapel

Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Audio Guide
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€43.70

Priority Entrance Tickets to Colosseum, Roman Forum and Palatine Hill

Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Audio Guide
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Arena Floor Special Access Tour of the Colosseum, Roman Forum & Palatine Hill

Free Cancellation
Instant Confirmation
Mobile Ticket
Flexible Duration
Guided Tour
More details +

Frequently Asked Questions About Colosseum Underground Tours

Q. What is a Colosseum Underground Tour?

A. A Colosseum Underground Tour quite literally takes you under the Colosseum where animals and gladiators waited for their turn in contests and events. It gives you a behind-the-scenes experience of the Colosseum.

Q. Does a Colosseum ticket include Underground access?

A. No, not all Colosseum tickets include access to the Underground. You’ll have to purchase specific Colosseum tickets that include a visit to the arena floor, underground section and the Belvedere.

Q. Can I get skip-the-line access for my Colosseum Underground Tour?

A. Yes. Your Colosseum Underground Tour includes skip-the-line access to sections like the Underground and Arena.

Q. Is the Colosseum Underground tour worth it?

A. Yes. The Colosseum Underground Tour offers priority access to the arena, the underground, and the third floor, if the ticket includes, making for a memorable experience.

Q. Can you tour the Colosseum Underground on your own?

A. No, access to the Colosseum underground is only available through a guided tour. Only two levels of the Colosseum are open for the public to explore on their own.

Q. How to Book A Colosseum Underground Tour?

A. It is recommended that you book your Colosseum Underground Tour online and select your preferred time slot much in advance.

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