Book Colosseum underground tours

RomeColosseum TicketsColosseum Underground Tours

What is the Colosseum Underground?

The Colosseum Underground, known as the "hypogeum," was a network of tunnels and cells beneath the floor of the main arena. This complex subterranean structure was the area where gladiators stood, anxiously, sweating, waiting for their turn to enter the arena and engage in a fight to their death. The hypogeum was equipped with mechanisms for elevating people and animals to the surface.

Colosseum Underground (Hypogeum) Quick Facts

Colosseum Rome tickets

Why Take A Colosseum Underground Tour?

Colosseum Rome tickets
  • Incredible history: One of the prime reasons to delve into a Colosseum underground tour is its compelling history. Consider the Colosseum Underground as the crucial backstage, where intricate preparations for each monumental gladiator battle occurred.
  • Different perspectives: Taking an underground tour offers a novel perspective on the Colosseum's history and architecture. The cramped space, coupled with the anticipation of the fight, makes visiting the underground a somber and evocative one.
  • Experience the life of 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.

How to enhance your Colosseum underground tour experience?

Check your tickets

Tickets to view the underground are not guaranteed with a regular entry ticket to the Colosseum. Make sure you book tickets that grant special access to this segment of the Colosseum.

Colosseum Rome tickets
Colosseum Rome tickets

The Hypogea

The next stop on the tour is the Hypogeum, commonly referred to as the Underground. This area served as the waiting area. Divided into two levels, the areas consisted of a network of tunnels and cages that led to the Arena. The Hypogea played the role of the backstage of the Colosseum, a bustling hub used for the preparation for performances and scene shifts, as well as the transport of props and the care of animals.

Colosseum Rome tickets

Tunnels And monumental entrances

The complex tunnel system included tunnels that the Emperor and Vestal Virgins could use for entry and exit, offering direct access to their imperial residence without having to mingle with other spectators. The tiles used in these particular passages boasted intricate decorations, distinguishing them from the rest. The subterranean structure also boasted two grand arches for gladiators to make their dramatic entrances into the arena.

Colosseum Rome tickets

Wooden elevators

Transporting animals, staging equipment, and even the gladiator to and from the Arena was accomplished using an array of wooden elevators, concealed beneath the amphitheater. These elevators, considered a significant architectural marvel, were equipped with a system of ramps and counterweights, showcasing the Romans' advanced engineering.

History of the Colosseum underground

The Colosseum's construction commenced under Emperor Vespasian around 70-72 AD and was completed under his successor, Titus, in 80 AD. However, the underground sector, also known as the hypogeum, was not part of the initial construction but was later commissioned by Emperor Domitian.

The hypogeum was finished roughly a decade after the inauguration of the arena. This subterranean network consisted of two main corridors and 80 vertical shafts, offering direct access to the arena. Over the years, the Colosseum underground underwent at least twelve major renovations, featuring a variety of machines such as elevators and hydraulic mechanisms. The Underground opened to the public for the first time in 2010.

The Underground's impact on the Colosseum events

The construction of the Underground dramatically changed the nature of the spectacles held at the Colosseum. With the Hypogeum in place, the organizers could stage more complex shows involving animals, gladiators, and stage props, increasing the grandeur of the events and providing an unparalleled spectacle for the Roman citizens.

Visiting the Colosseum underground today

Since the underground was opened to the public in 2010, it is possible to visit this part of the amphitheater. However, access is limited and requires a licensed tour guide due to the area's historical importance and fragility.

These tours often include additional areas of the Colosseum, such as the Arena and the upper tiers, offering visitors a comprehensive experience of this iconic monument. A visit to the Underground is an unforgettable journey into the past, shedding light on the ingenuity and grandeur of ancient Rome.

Frequently asked questions about Colosseum Underground tours

What is the Colosseum Underground?

The Colosseum Underground, or Hypogeum, is the complex network of tunnels and rooms beneath the arena floor where gladiators and animals were kept before fights. It provides a unique glimpse into the operations behind the grand spectacles of the Colosseum.

Where can I buy Colosseum Underground tickets?

Tickets for the Colosseum Underground can be purchased online or at the ticket office at the venue. However, due to high demand, online booking is highly recommended. This will also allow you the chance to select your preferred time slot much in advance.

Does a general Colosseum ticket include Underground access?

No, not all Colosseum tickets include access to the Underground. The Colosseum Underground requires a separate ticket, which includes a guided tour. This ticket typically also includes access to the rest of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.

Does Colosseum Underground tours also offer skip-the-line access?

Yes., your Colosseum Underground Tour includes skip-the-line access to the amphitheatre along with allowing you the chance to visit sections like the Underground and Arena.

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.

Who designed the Colosseum Underground?

The Colosseum, including the Underground, was commissioned by Emperor Vespasian of the Flavian dynasty, but the hypogeum was added later by Emperor Domitian.

When was the Colosseum Underground built?

The Colosseum was built between 70-80 AD, but the Underground was added later, approximately ten years after the inauguration of the arena.

What's inside the Colosseum Underground?

The Colosseum Underground is a network of tunnels, rooms, and passageways, including holding cells for gladiators and animals, as well as machinery for lifting them to the arena floor.

What can I do at the Colosseum Underground?

Visitors to the Colosseum Underground can explore the labyrinthine tunnels, learn about the logistics of staging the grand gladiatorial games, and gain a deeper understanding of ancient Roman history and culture.

Is the Colosseum Underground wheelchair accessible?

Due to the ancient architecture and irregular terrain, the Colosseum Underground is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible.