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Colosseum tours underground: why you should consider booking this tour

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A trip to Rome is incomplete without a visit to the Colosseum, the most popular site in the city. The architectural wonder that stands majestically in the middle of Rome is aptly named after the Greek word kolossós, meaning a statute of massive proportions.

Although some of the original marble, brick, and travertine façades have weathered with age, the Colosseum, also known as the Flavian amphitheater, still holds its appeal as the largest auditorium of Rome’s classical era.

And for those keen to explore everything the Colosseum has to offer, venturing to the Colosseum underground is an exciting experience.

The Colosseum underground

Below the arena is the Colosseum underground or hypogeum, where gladiators once primed themselves before emerging onto the main stage for battle. Opened to public tour groups in 2010, the underground trips have become increasingly popular.

Colosseum tours underground throw you back in time, and you can almost sense the excitement and the fear the gladiators must have felt as the bloodthirsty crowds above cheered impatiently.

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How was the Colosseum Underground built ?

The history of the Colosseum dates as far back as 70-72AD. Vespasian, the first Flavian Emperor, began a project to replace the imperial residence of the deceased and much-loathed emperor Nero, with a public arena that would host games and recreational exhibitions for Roman citizens.

Professional builders used various materials including wood, turf, marble, and brick to construct the Colosseum. By the time of his death, Vespasian had constructed the amphitheater to three stories. His youngest son, Emperor Domitian, completed the building by installing underground tunnels.

The network of underground shafts served as a backstage for gladiators and a storage area for animals. The original underground structure featured eighty vertical tunnels that led to the arena. Some tunnels brought out animals and gladiators while others were designed for the Emperor to enter and leave the amphitheatre without passing through the crowds.

Mechanical elevators were also constructed inside the underground stables to hoist and raise animals and gladiators to and from the arena. The planning and construction of the amphitheatre took only 12 years, an impressive feat given the sheer size of the building.

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Is the Colosseum underground tour worth it ?

If you’re curious enough and want to recreate the blood-boiling exhilaration, fear, and anticipation that characterized the spectacular Roman battles, then an exploration of the underbelly makes a Colosseum underground tour worth it.

The underground tour also gives you an excellent opportunity to marvel at the network of hydraulic elevators, which really show off the Ancient Romans’ innovativeness.

But what makes the Colosseum underground tour worth every penny, is the fact that a tour is the only way to visit the hypogeum. So you’ll have exclusive access to this part of the Colosseum.

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What does the Colosseum underground tour include ?

The Colosseum underground tour entails an exploration of the arena floor, the Undergrounds, and a trip to the upper levels of the Colosseum. Seeing every possible part of the Colosseum certainly makes a Colosseum underground tour worth it.

Access to the Arena floor

Over the years, the original arena was pilfered and is now replaced by a new stage, which is accessible through the Gate of Death (don’t worry, it’s no longer as deathly as it used to be). You’ll get to stand in the middle of the arena, and take in a 360-degree view of the interior of the Colosseum. You can look up at where ancient spectators would have witnessed the gladiatorial games, and imagine you’ve been placed in the fighting ring.

Discover the undergrounds

Colosseum tours underground will take you further down the basement where animals, gladiators, and slaves were housed prior to the shows. Parts of the chambers have weathered but much of the edifice is still intact. Although the original mechanical lifts no longer exist, the refurbished elevators give you a sense of the roaring displays that took place here many years ago.

Enjoy the view from the Third Ring

With Colosseum underground and third ring tickets, you can access the finishing point of the Colosseum underground tour, the Third Ring, which offers awe-inspiring views of the Palatine Hill and Roman Forum.

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How long is the underground Colosseum tour ?

Set aside about 75 minutes for the underground Colosseum tour, which includes access to the arena, underground stables, and Belvedere.

How to book Colosseum underground and third ring tickets ?

You can book your Colosseum underground and third ring tickets at the Colosseum, or in advance at ticket offices in the city or with one of the independent agencies who provide guided tours. You will need a standard ticket to access the general areas of the amphitheatre and a special tour ticket to visit the hypogeum.

If you want to avoid the long waiting lines, consider booking your tickets online.

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Everything you need to know about Colosseum underground tours

– Expect to undergo a security check before accessing the Colosseum

– Bulky luggage is not permitted inside the Colosseum

– The amphitheatre can get quite windy and noisy so the audio headsets will come in handy

– Children under 18 can access the Colosseum free of charge and those below age 12 can go on the underground tour for free. However, all children still need an entry ticket, which you can get online at the time of booking your adult tickets. You need to pick up kids’ tickets outside the Colosseum or at a ticket agency. Be sure to bring a passport or ID to show proof of age

– The underground tour may be difficult if you have limited mobility. Take the necessary precautions to avoid falls

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Book a basic Colosseum tour

For basic Colosseum tours, you will need a standard ticket. Basic tours will let you explore the Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and limited areas of the Colosseum, but not the underground.

You can get the tickets by queuing in line on the day of the tour but we highly recommend that you can book in advance online via the Colosseum, ticket agencies, or group tour companies.

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Conclusion

When visiting a site as popular as the Colosseum, you need a plan, especially if you want to explore the Colosseum’s underbelly.

Why limit yourself to a few areas of the Colosseum when special Colosseum tours underground and Colosseum underground and third ring tickets give you access to the seedy underworld of the Flavian amphitheater.

Although you can go on a solo excursion, you won’t be able to visit the underground sections without a tour guide, so consider a guided tour to make the Colosseum underground tour worth it.

If you arrive at the Colosseum without pre-booked tickets, you’ll be waiting for quite a while in line. But if you want to avoid the queues, book online prior to your trip.

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