Tourists Can Visit Gladiators' Underground Chambers

The amphitheater's 'backstage' is restored and open
By Liz MacGahan,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2021 1:15 PM CDT
Get Your Backstage Pass to the Roman Colosseum
After more than 2 years of work to shore up the Colosseum’s underground passages, tourists will be able to go down and wander through part of what what had been the ancient arena’s “backstage.”   (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

You can get backstage passes to the Colosseum in Rome, now. The giant landmark, also known as the Flavian Amphitheater, has been undergoing renovations for years now with the help of an Italian fashion brand, and the latest project has been to make the hypogeum more accessible to the public. The hypogeum—just a fancy word for underground chamber—functioned like a backstage area in the Colosseum’s heyday. It’s a warren of passageways, once accessed by trapdoors and elevators as well as corridors, where stagehands did behind-the-scenes work on gladiator battles and other shows. Now it’s a place tourists can explore. Collosseum director Alfonsina Russo called it a “monument within a monument.”

Tod has kicked in almost $30 million so far, starting with a facelift for the exterior. The current phase took a staff of 80, including archaeologists and architects, more than two years to complete. The Colosseum was in regular use for four centuries, and the hypogeum was a rich library of archaeological data, the New York Times reports. The open-air view of the underground complex is going away soon; the next phase of the renovation will be restoring the floor to a state where it can be used to put on shows again, the Guardian reports. This isn’t the first public-private collaboration in recent Roman history. Bulgari helped restore the Spanish Steps and Fendi threw money into the Trevi Fountain. (More Rome stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.