Colosseum Underground tour

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.

Why visit the Colosseum Underground?

  • 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. A lot to see and experience, wouldn't you say?
  • Another reason why you should opt for a Colosseum underground tour is that the rich history associated with the place can only be experienced through a tour. During your Colosseum underground tour, you'll be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who'll share fascinating facts about the section, making your overall experience more fulfilling.
  • 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. The anticipation and worry, coupled with the cramped space, make the underground a truly harrowing place.
  • Now just a faint reminder of what it once stood for, the Colosseum underground is worth a visit for the experience of being under the Colosseum alone.

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 featured a system of tunnels with two major corridors. This space was used to hold animals and gladiators before contests began and included 80 vertical shafts that provided the former instant access to the area. The Colosseum Underground 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 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.

Colosseum Underground Tour: What to Expect?

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 your skip-the-line tickets.

Colosseum Underground Tour FAQ

1. Does a Colosseum ticket include Underground access?
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.

2. Can I get skip-the-line access for my Colosseum Underground ticket?
Yes. Your Colosseum ticket includes skip-the-line access to sections like the Underground and Arena.

3. Is a Colosseum Underground tour worth it?
Yes. The Colosseum underground tour offers access to the area floor, the underground, and the third floor, making for a memorable experience.

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