The evolution of Rome’s great Colosseum is ever-changing. Once a battleground for the region’s fiercest yet poorest warriors, almost 2,000 years later, the same tunnels those warriors meandered are now open to the public.
With the opening of the tunnels, which occurred back in June of 2021, Italy is trying to steer tourism in the right direction. And, amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the Colosseum is a great bucket list destination — especially for those forced to cancel vacation plans due to the pandemic.
For the first time ever, visitors of the Colosseum have a chance to experience the real “backstage” of the arena where “exotic animals and gladiators suddenly appeared in the dust of the stage, through hidden hatches,” states Coop Culture.
The tunnel system is known as a hypogeum, or an underground chamber, and it was named the true “backstage” of the amphitheater by the Colosseum’s director, Alfonsina Russo, according to The Guardian. It’s one of the largest expansion efforts within the Italian fashion house Tod’s multi-million dollar renovation of the Colosseum.
While touring the newly opened gladiator tunnels, guests will get a fully-guided tour of the Colosseum, from the backstage hypogeum to the wonderful view at Valadier Terrace. Explore the inner workings of the place where warriors once fought giant animals. See what these places look like now and “have areas almost or completely to yourself at a monument that gets over 6 million visitors per year,” according to What A Life Tours.
The Colosseum has since become a once in a lifetime experience, and it is constantly changing.
The opening of the tunnels last June is just one part of the restoration project set to complete its final phase by 2024 with the restoration of “the galleries and lighting system as well as adding a new visitor center,” according to The Guardian.
Included in the restoration efforts are plans to add a brand-new arena floor by 2023 and to clean the facade of the Colosseum. Still holding the title of world’s largest amphitheater, the iconic Roman structure is soon returning to its original use, giving people a modern idea of what life was like centuries ago.
But with change comes criticism.
“There was much criticism when Italy’s culture minister, Dario Franceschini, announced several public-private partnerships for the renovation of Rome’s monuments,” wrote Angela Giuffrida for The Guardian. “The restoration of the hypogeum is the second part of a three-phase project on the Colosseum that began 8 years ago.”
Franceschini and the Italian government have recently come under fire for the handling of a Roman villa up for auction that houses the only Caravaggio mural. While he’s stated that “it’s right to have full public-private collaboration,” Franceschini believes in Tod’s efforts to give back to the country of Italy with their restoration project.
However, he still faces criticism; which is well-warranted due to the pride Italy has in its national monuments.
As long as the Colosseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Colosseum falls, Rome will fall; when Rome falls, the whole world will fall.The Venerable Bede
The Colosseum was built in the center of Rome, home to the storied history of the great Roman Empire. While several empires before and after it have fallen, the Colosseum still stands today. And thanks to the 10-year-plus restoration effort, the humans of today get to experience the Italian marvel like no one else in the world has before.
For more information about exploring the newly-opened hypogeum, check out the ticket availability here.
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