Colosseum underground open to the public

The Colosseum in Rome has opened its subterranean levels to the public, for the first time in history, with a new pathway offering a glimpse of ‘backstage,’ where gladiators waited to meet their fate.

The Colosseum’s ‘hypogeum,’ or subterranean area, was opened to the public for the first time last Friday, with a new pathway offering a view behind the scenes and an app explaining all the gruesome details of this area.

The restoration project, begun in 2018 and sponsored by Italian luxury shoemaker Tod’s, involved dozens of archaeologists, engineers and architects working to clean, restore and reinforce the walls stretching over more than an acre.

In 2011, Tod’s Chairman Diego della Valle contributed 25 million euros to restore this ancient monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site, still standing tall after 2000 years.

Speaking at the unveiling ceremony, the director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, Alfonsina Russo, said the project would allow people to understand better how the Colosseum used to function. “This was the backstage of the shows… the location for all the preparation, even the technology – they brought props, men, and animals up into the area through a series of elevators and lifts,” said Ms. Russo at the ceremony.

Mr. Della Valle also spoke briefly about the pandemic and the impact it has had on Italy – the first country to be hit in Europe – describing it as a tragedy. “It is time to restart, to move forward because there is a lot of work to be done,” said Della Valle, urging other businesses to invest in restoring Italy’s heritage.


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