Colosseum to open gladiator passageways for first time

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The subterranean passageways of the Colosseum in which gladiators waited to do battle and terrified wild animals were caged are to be opened to the public for the first time this summer.

An ingenious system of pulleys, ropes and platforms enabled lions, tigers, bears and other wild beasts to be winched up into the sand-covered arena, to the cheers and jeers of 50,000 baying spectators.

The opening of the 2,000-year-old underground tunnels and galleries will enable tourists to get a taste of a key scene from the Ridley Scott blockbuster Gladiator, in which the former general Maximus, played by Russell Crowe, waits with his fellow fighters to run out into the arena.

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