Colosseum opens 'gladiator' passages to tourists
The dark tunnels in which gladiators prepared to do battle in the Colosseum are being opened to the public for the first time.
But archaeologists are concerned about the impact that millions of tourists will have on the subterranean maze of tunnels and galleries as they seek to experience their very own 'gladiator' moment.
From next week, visitors will be able to venture into the bowels of the amphitheatre, the largest ever built by the Romans, exploring the cells and passageways in which wild animals such as lions, tigers, bears and hyenas were corralled.
They were forced into cages and raised with a system of winches and pulleys to just beneath the floor of the sand-covered arena, emerging from rope-operated trap doors to do battle with other animals or with gladiators.
The largest animals -- elephants, rhinoceroses and hippopotamuses -- entered through a gate directly into the arena.
Opening up the underground area is intended to relieve crowding at one of Italy's most popular ancient monuments -- around 20,000 people converge on the Colosseum each day.
The newly accessible areas will be open to guided tours of 25 people at a time. (©Daily Telegraph, London)