Colosseum Underground Tour has outstanding stories & sights of the Ancient world. In ancient Rome, thousands of people watched the battle of slaves, convicted criminals, and wild animals in a large amphitheater known as the Colosseum. Under the wooden Colosseum floor, which was the scene of many gladiator events and wild animal hunting, was a completely different world.
To make these eerie displays possible, Roman architects designed a series of intricate and interconnected tunnels beneath the floor of the Colosseum arena: Underground of Colosseum. You can find everything you are looking for in our article about the underground tunnels of the Colosseum which you can visit with a guide today.
Book Colosseum Underground Tours & Tickets:
There are hundreds of Colosseum and Rome tours that we compare on our website. Some of these tours are underground tours. The tours we have compiled for you are as follows**. Prices of tours vary according to group size (eg private group, group of 10 or group of 30 people), date and time. When compiling the tours, we took into account the number of positive reviews and the review score. For example, we do not find it appropriate to share a tour with 3 stars out of 5 with you.
**Tour prices are checked and updated everyday. You can click on the reservation link for short-term opportunities and more details. You can send us an e-mail for your tour suggestions, we will be happy to publish them.
from €99 EUR (Approx.)
Duration: 3 Hours
Organized by: Tours of Rome SRLS
from €119.00 EUR (Approx.)
Duration: 75 Minutes – 3 Hours
Organized by: The Ultimate Italy
from €109.00 EUR
Duration: 3 Hours
Organized by: Tiqets
from €119 EUR (Approx.)
Duration: 3 Hours
Organized by: Touriks
from €109.00 EUR
Duration: 2 hours
Organized by: Italy With Family
from €109.00 EUR (Approx.)
Duration: 3.5 Hours
Organized by: City Wonders
from €99.90 EUR (Approx.)
Duration: 3 Hours
Organized by: Show Me Italy
If you think that the underground tour option exceeds your budget, you can choose tickets with the Arena-Entry option or standart skip-the-line entry.
from €22.00 EUR
Organized by: Getyourguide
from €29.00 EUR
Duration: 3-4 Hours
History and Facts
The Roman Colosseum was constructed between 72 AD and 80 AD under the Roman Emperor Vespasian. When it was first built it was initially called the Flavian Amphitheatre (latin: Amphitheatrum Flavium), after the Flavian dynasty of Emperors including Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. The labyrinth of originally vaulted rooms beneath the arena was built over a number of years after the inaugruration of the amphitheatre by Emperor Domitian. Later elevators on pulley systems added. They lifted gladiators, wild animals, and scenery to the arena floor. Huge, hinged platforms allowed animals to walk up to the arena of the Colosseum.
Some antique sources state that prior to the construction of the hypogea using blocks of tufa and brick, the central area used to be flooded to stage naval battles (naumachiae). This underground area was divided into 15 corridors set to the side of a central gallery along the longest axis of the building (east-west), and were used for the various complex operations of the amphitheatre and hydraulic infrastructure. The stage machinery, armouries games, arms and cages for the animals were all stored here. Hoists operated by capstans served to make figures and sets appear at the centre of the arena through trap doors and ramps, while the animals would enter close to the sides of the arena.
The central gallery continued beneath the eastern entrance towards the Ludus Magnus, the most important training ground for gladiators, the remains of which can still be seen just outside the Colosseum between via Labicana and via di San Giovanni in Laterano. By following this secret passage, the gladiators could reach the arena directly without being seen in the street. The emperors also used a subterranean corridor — called the Passage of Commodus — enabling them to avoid putting themselves at risk by crossing the crowded square in front of the amphitheatre.
Running a great building like the Roman Colosseum needed a large staff and tireless managers to organize them. Some Colosseum staff could be seen by the spectators as they swept and cleaned, guarded the entrances, and lugged heavy safety fences into place. But most people working at the Colosseum were less visible because they worked underground. While the gladiators fought and the lions roared overhead in the arena, dozens of workmen and slaves were busy in the maze of corridors, elevators, stairs, and store-rooms that lay hidden beneath the Roman Colosseum, far from public view.
The Roman engineers designed tunnels to bring the Gladiators into the arena hidden. The animals were confined in cages and raised in elevators 30 feet up. They were trained to assault their enemy at very first sight. Trap doors would launch the animals and men at the same time into the arena. The 4th tier of the arena had the most remarkable technological technology for its times – A retractable roofing made from the canvas was utilized to offer shelter to the audience from the scorching sun.
While the audience in the Colosseum focused on the bloody events in the arena, the hypogeum below it was a scene of furious activity. Laborers performed their backbreaking jobs in humid summer and chilly, damp winter. The chambers reeked from years of accumulated smells of human sweat and wild animals.
It was also dark, lit only by smoky oil lanterns. And it was deafeningly loud, with an overwhelming din of creaking machinery, people shouting, animals growling, and loud signals made by horns or drums to coordinate the complex series of tasks being carried out. Then, when it was all over, there was an eerie calm—but the work was not finished.
Historian Fik Meijer writes, After the spectators have left the Colosseum, a powerful atmosphere of death and decay lingers in the underground passageways. Carcasses of wild animals lie everywhere, along with the corpses of executed criminals, horribly mutilated by the claws and teeth of predators. Everything is drenched in blood and there remains a penetrating odour of rotting esh. But since there may well be another show within a few days, perhaps even the next day, everything has to look clean again. For the large permanent sta of the Colosseum and the extra manpower hired for the occasion, a dispiriting task now begins: clearing out all the corpses and carcasses.
The Gladiatorial Games
The gladiatorial games in ancient Rome were a bit like modern football matches. The events were well organized, with league tables, a system of betting, powerful bosses, managers and trainers whose livelihood depended on winning, superstar players and fanatical supporters. Victory was everything and there was a serious price to pay for failure. Contests between gladiators were only one of many forms of entertainment held in the amphitheatre, however. Support acts included the staged hunting and slaughter of wild animals, comedy warm-up acts and public executions ad bestias of criminals – including early Christians.
Before the gladiators made an appearance in the arena it was customary to treat the audience to a series of shows involving wild animals. In the very early days these creatures were merely paraded or displayed in cages as if in a zoo and the crowd would be content just to look at them. The mock hunts and wholesale slaughter came later.
Exotic animals arrived in Rome as a direct consequence of the expansion of the empire. Capturing new species was always part of any planned expedition overseas, and the Roman army employed specially trained people for the job. The eastern Mediterranean produced lions, tigers and hippopotamuses while North Africa provided elephants, rhinoceroses, leopards (panthers), lynxes, giraffes, monkeys, camels, antelopes, horses, wild asses, crocodiles and ostriches. Bulls came from Greece, and bears, bison and the aurochs were imported from northern Europe. Apart from wolves, deer, goats, wild boar and wild cats, Italy appears to have had few creatures of its own to exploit in the arena.
After the wild animal hunts and the midday executions came the munus, the gladiatorial show that was the highlight of the day’s entertainment. Several days before an important show notices would go up around the city announcing who would be appearing and the order in which the fights were due to take place.
After the fight the emperor would present the victorious gladiator with a palm branch and, if his performance had been particularly good, a crown. Like modern sporting heroes the triumphant winner would then do a lap of honour around the arena, waving the tokens of his victory to the crowd.
Colosseum Underground Tour: Worth It?
If you are looking for a detailed Colosseum visit and planning to take a tour, we highly recommend you to take a tour that includes visiting the underground of the Colosseum. In the Colosseum Underground Tour, visitors can access special areas (skip the line access) not open to standard entry-ticket holders.
Of course, the first thing you will witness when you visit the Colosseum will be pure stone creations. However standing in the narrow aisles of the Colosseum where gladiators stand before the fights, feeling the atmosphere of the venue, where gladiators were once worried and sweat, is a unique feeling that you must experience. If you think of the Colosseum as a theatre stage, its underground structure called hypogeum is the backstage of the Colosseum. Also as you can learn more about by clicking this link, the ancient elevator is recreated by archaeologists.
The underground tours of Colosseum usually include the arena section, other parts of the Colosseum (third ring etc.) Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill. You can learn more about how the Colosseum used to be and the lives of gladiators by participating in one of the tours with thousands of positive feedbacks we recommend.
See the stream of water under the Colosseum, see underground sites and the upper area of the arena. Get special access to limited locations and check out the arena flooring of the Colosseum while countless other visitors take a look at you with envy. Discover more about the underground staging location where animals were caged and the gladiators honed their swords in preparation. Check out the just recently opened Colosseum dungeons and examine the working systems below the arena and on the arena flooring itself.
Visiting the Underground by Night
If you don’t want to visit the Colosseum in the heat of the day and you want to visit it away from the busy crowds, you can visit the Colosseum at night. Visiting the Colosseum at night doesn’t mean you’ll see it in total darkness. You will not miss the details thanks to the special lightings and the explanations of your tour guide. Also, a night visit will give you a different perspective and atmosphere. However, underground night tours do not have the option to visit the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill. The Roman Forum and Palatine Hill can only be visited at night for special events.
Meet outside the famous landmark and start the Colosseum night tour after a quick introduction. Walk through the Gate of Death, the exit for perished gladiators, and get get VIP access to the arena floor. While standing on the arena floor, stare up at the night sky through Colosseum’s open-top construction and imagine the gladiators and emperors doing the same thing about 2.000 years ago.
A dedicated guide will also depict what the Colosseum was like at the height of its splendor, as they show you the tiered seating and where nobles would have sat. Then, descend to the complex underground structure where exotic animals were kept and gladiators prepared for what might have been their final moments alive.
Visiting on a Rainy Day
On days of very heavy rain, the Colosseum underground tours are sometimes canceled. For this reason, it is useful to check the weather forecast before booking a tour.
2023 Update – Good News
The underground structure of the Colosseum can be visited on a tour since 2010. However, these visits covered only a small part of the underground structure of the Colosseum.
As a result of the arrangements and work done by the Italian authorities during the global coronavirus pandemic, tourists will now be able to explore the underground tunnels and rooms almost completely. With the restoration project financed by the Italian fashion company Tod’s and involving 81 archaeologists and experts, 15 corridors were opened to visitors. Visitors will now be able to tour the backstage of the Colosseum, which is spread over half a hectare with a 160-meter walking path, much easier.
Restoring the Colosseum underground is actually part of a much larger restoration project. The project, which is expected to be completed by 2023, is aimed to cover the underground and to be buried in darkness as in ancient times. After the restorations carried out in the arena and underground are completed, visitors to the Colosseum will be able to perceive the functioning of the building much better.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where is the meeting point?
For the Colosseum Underground tour, the meeting point is usually in front of the Colosseo Metro station or in front of the Arch of Constantine. Tour guides are waiting for the participants with distinctive symbols (flags, t-shirts, etc.).
What should you bring with you?
You must have your passport and official ID with you. We also recommend you to wear comfortable shoes and bring water as it will be quite hot, especially in summer. Plastic water bottles are allowed in Colosseum however, glass bottles are not allowed. Backpacks, large bags, and suitcases are not allowed in the Colosseum due to safety reasons. You need to leave your bag at your hotel or look for a Luggage Store.
How to reach the Colosseum?
- You choose! Available options: metro, tram or bus.
- Which bus line to reach the Colosseum? Bus lines numbered 23, 280, 673, and 716 will take you to the Colosseum.
- Which metro line to reach the Colosseum? When you use Rome’s metro service, Line B will bring you to the Colosseum. You should leave the metro at the station “Colosseo”.
- What is the exact location of the Colosseum? In case you need the exact address of the Colosseum, here it is: Piazza del Colosseo, 1, 00184 Roma RM, Italy.
Value for Money
For the reasons explained in our article, we recommend the Colosseum Underground Tour.