Cast your mind back two millennia and picture the combined chaos of men and beasts alike, primed for what is to come; each step you take during this Colosseum Underground Tour retraces that of those pacing in anticipation of their rise into Rome’s great amphitheatre.
By descending into the depths of this Roman arena, you receive a backstage pass to the Romans’ most sought after show. Preserved from the elements that have weathered the sights above, Walks Inside Rome’s underground tour transports you inside the belly of the beast that is the Colosseum.
Exploring the arena’s underground network
Led by an expert local guide, your small group’s underground tour of the Colosseum will discover the hidden maze of rooms, tunnels, and wooden elevators that spanned two levels under the sandy arena floor.
This labyrinth of passageways also contained a complex water and drainage system. Why? Because the brightest Roman minds had decided this was the best way to aid in the disposal of the blood and excrement that seeped from above. Add a suffocating darkness and appalling smell and you can truly sense the horrors that the Colosseum’s awaiting participants endured.
Formed in white travertine, the Colosseum Underground Tour paints a picture of the amphitheatre’s bright appearance to onlooking Roman eyes. Try to imagine the landmarks seen in a Colosseum and Gladiator’s Gate small group tour shining in a similar way before being battered by 2,000 years of earthquakes, fires, and lightning strikes.
The Colosseum’s hidden history
The underground network, known as the hypogeum, played an essential role in the Colosseum’s inaugural games (80 AD). Over 9,000 exotic creatures passed through the 32 animal holding pens, which can still be seen today, on their way to entertaining the 50,000 – 80,000 eager spectators.
Your guide will tell of how these games (and the Colosseum in general) were intended as a societal pacification, as emperor Flavius Vespasianus looked to curtail a tumultuous period kickstarted by the power vacuum left behind by emperor Nero’s tyrannical rule.
Known originally as the Flavian Amphitheatre, the spectacle’s name differed to what we know today in reference to the ‘Colossus’, a 35-metre bronze tall statue of Apollo. This marvel, which stood outside the Colosseum, was ordered to be created by Nero on his Golden Palace and it was here that Vespasian and his son, Titus, erected the arena in the 70s AD.
Looking from the arena floor
Much like a Colosseum arena tour, your experience begins by gazing below at the hypogeum from the ampitheatre’s sand floor. Here you will realise the grandeur of the Colosseum’s events seen by entranced senatorial eyes.
So, what exactly took place in this baying atmosphere? Gladiators are by far the Colosseum’s most famed contestants. However, the Colosseum’s underground also sat directly below merciless executions, intricate battle re-enactments, and beastly animal hunts.
Following a ghastly run of events, which included both the fire of Rome and Vesuvius’ engulfing of Pompeii and Herculaneum, Titus established the initial games in a bid to divert public attention and win over the Gods. Your small group will relive how 5,000 animals were procured from across the Roman Empire for the 100-day event that is best remembered for the Gladiatorial spectacle of Versus and Priscus.
The Colosseum Underground Tour, which can be taken either privately or in an exclusive group, will enlighten you on how these animals, men, and props were winched from the dark depths below to the joy of the crowd above.
Experience Ancient Rome’s other marvels
Not only will your expert local guide take you through the underpasses of one of Rome’s most recognisable landmarks, you will also pass numerous unforgettable monuments and ruins.
- Arch of Constantine: Forged in dedication to Constantine the Great (c.315 AD), this breathtaking arch stands 21 metres high. You will revel in stories of the monument’s creation, which commemorated a great victory of Constantine three years previous.
- Roman Forum: Here you will take a passeggiata (stroll) through another of Rome’s great excavated wonders. Passing the crematorial site of Julius Caesar, the area of the eternally-lit fires at the Temple of Vesta, and the collection of ancient basilicas, the hub of the Roman Empire, will come to life beneath your feet.
- Arch of Septimius Severus: This is not the first fading relic you will pass that commemorates a monumental victory. Once a nod to the bloody battle against the Parthians, the sight now plays the beautiful backdrop for couples’ neverending selfies.
- Palatine Hill: Following a tour of ancient Rome’s greatest, and darkest, moments, the Colosseum Underground Tour returns you to the city’s very beginnings. Artefacts from huts dating back to the 7th century BC allude to humble beginnings at the site that hosted emperors’ palace complexes in its heyday.
Book your tour today!
For two decades Walks Inside Rome has hosted local, authentic, and informative tours of the Colosseum and its underground hypogeum.
Our guides with expertise in art, history, archeology, and food bring to life your immersive experience of one of Rome’s greatest monuments.
For our full collection of tours and offers take a look at our website, while you can either book directly online or contact us via email. We look forward to hearing from you so as to craft your individual experience of the Eternal City!