The Colosseum’s Underground… Has Re-Opened!

Colosseum hypogeum, open to the public
Good news: The hypogeum, arena and 3rd level of the Colosseum are open as of today, March 12.

Update, October 2011: The Colosseum underground and third level will be open through Dec. 31.

Update, September 2011: The Colosseum hypogeum and 3rd tier will be open through October 2011.

Update, June 2011: Here's updated info on the Colosseum underground, including how it will be open through July and what tour options you have for seeing the underground.

The woman at Pierreci said that they aren't accepting reservations for today or tomorrow, so if you're looking to check the newly-restored areas — closed again since Nov. 30 — out over the weekend, go directly there.

But from Monday, you can make reservations for the tour that takes you into the hypogeum — the underground, "backstage" area where gladiators and animals would have waited for their turns to fight — and up to the third level, as well as onto the arena.

As in the fall, you can't see these areas without a guided tour. Unlike in the fall, Pierreci says that when you book, you also have to pay by credit card in advance. Pierreci told me that  the cost is โ‚ฌ9 for the guided tour, plus the โ‚ฌ12 entrance ticket, and they said there is no reservation fee. 

English tours are offered daily at 9:40am, 12:20pm, 1pm, 3pm, and 4:20pm. To book, call +39 0639967700. (They should speak English).

As anyone who's been to Italy knows, things are always changing here — or one department might say one thing, but another might say something else. So if anyone has a different experience with this, please let us know in the comments.

Here are more photos and the story of what it's actually like if you're curious what all the hypogeum hubbub is about. And while some of the particulars of how to book have changed, this Q&A on how to see the Colosseum's underground should still be helpful.

Happy booking!

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The Colosseum’s Subterranean Level…Is Now Open!

Hypogeum of the Colosseum, which will open to visitors in October
Back in May, the ministry of cultural heritage said it would open the subterranean level of the Colosseum — the section below the arena where gladiators and animals would have waited for their turn to fight — by the end of the summer.

That didn't exactly happen on time, but it is happening. The (still-provisional) opening date, which was just announced, will be Monday, October 11. Update, Oct. 14: On October 14, the ministry announced that the subterranean and third-level area is now open to the public. (Yay!) You can access the subterranean area via guided tours, which start on Oct. 19. To book, click here.

The hypogeum, as the underground area is called, has never been open to the public before. A series of two-level passageways and rooms beneath the area, it would have been dark, dank, and filled with terrified animals and (perhaps also terrified) gladiators. If walking through where bloodthirsty spectators would have sat doesn't give you chills, exploring these underground chambers certainly should.

The restoration of the hypogeum is part of a much bigger plan for the Colosseum, which the ministry plans to restore by 2013. That is, if they can find private sponsors for the $33 million renovation. Hey, you get advertising space on one of the world's most iconic monuments in return. Anyone? Anyone?

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