Rome’s Colosseum has opened its underground section to the public for the first time in 2,000 years.
These underground levels known as ‘hypogea’ once held the gladiators and animals that fought in the arena where originally candlelight used to illuminate these areas but now sunlight will shed a light for tourists to see these spaces for the first time.
The restoration on the underground levels took around 10 years to complete and it hasn’t been as straightforward as it might look with initial plans were formulated by Italian fashion brand Tod’s CEO Diego Della Valle and Rome’s Archaeological Heritage Department.
The process of the restoration included the cleaning of the structure’s facade, conducting photographic surveys and excavators cleaning and washing the underground areas from the thick layers of dirt and microorganisms.
Alfonsina Russo, director of the Colosseum Archaeological Park, told:
This restoration is absolutely important for the archaeological research, because it enables us to reconstruct its history.
This was the backstage of the shows that went on in the area. [It is 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 cargo lifts.
Last month, the Italian Ministry of Culture announced that it intended to build a wooden arena that would cover the hypogea, giving an idea of how the structure used to be.
This new area will also host events, but they’ll undoubtedly be less bloody than those of the past.