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10 of the Best Roman Amphitheatres

10 of the Best Roman Amphitheatres

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1. The Colosseum

Easily the most famous and the largest amphitheatre of ancient Rome, the Colosseum saw gladiators, criminals and lions alike fight for their lives in spectacular events. Today it remains a world renowned, iconic symbol of the Roman Empire. A visit to the Colosseum offers a great insight into the lives of those who had the misfortune of fighting there. In particular, it’s possible to tour the underground hallways and corridors where the gladiators would prepare to fight. There’s also a museum with a wealth of interesting artefacts and information and audio guides are available in a number of languages.

10 of the Best Roman Amphitheatres - History

Edited by Sebastian Heath

roman-amphitheaters is a dataset published in conjunction with figures and discussion that has the goal of facilitating the study of amphitheaters in the Roman world. For the purposes of this project the category 'Roman amphitheater' comprises relatively large and public Roman-period oval buildings with rows of seating arrayed around a similarly oval surface, or arena, on which a variety of entertainments - such as animal hunts, executions, and gladiatorial combat - took place. The most famous example of this building type, and also the largest, is the Flavian Amphitheater, or Colosseum, in Rome. Construction of that edifice began under the emperor Vespasian (d. AD 79) and entered full and regular use during the reign of his son Domitian (d. AD 96). It is important to note that of the three broad categories of activity that took place in amphitheaters, none of them took place only in amphitheaters. Therefore this dataset is not a complete map of any single Roman behavior. While it is the case that amphitheaters are distinctly 'Roman' given that they do not appear outside the territory of the Empire, they cannot be said to be a necessary component of Roman culture given that their distribution is very unequal in the territory that was firmly under imperial control. The publication of this dataset, and of the figures that use it, is intended to explore this tension between amphitheaters as a regular but not necessary or universal feature of Roman presence in the regions that Rome conquered.

The primary version of the data is the geojson file 'roman-amphitheaters.geojson', which can be rendered as a map by a variety of freely-available tools. Other data files are derived from that geojson.

Like much information related to the Roman Empire, and to antiquity more generally, it is unlikely that any single listing of structures can achieve universal recognition as being either complete or finished. While there are over 200 structures that are uncontroversially recognized as within the category, others are not so easily included or rejected. In this dataset, so-called 'Gallo-Roman' amphitheaters that combine features of theaters and amphitheaters are, or will be, included. Theaters that were later converted for display of gladiatorial combat are not.

Wikipedia's list of Roman amphitheaters at was an early source for the initial versions of this list. Tom Elliott added data from the Pleiades Project. Early on, Scott De Brestian kindly contributed positions of additional amphitheaters in Spain. In summer 2015, D. Bennett added orientation and other data. The full history of edits and contributions are available in the history of this github repository.

For users interested in acquiring just the current version of this resource, it should be sufficient to download the zip archive from That file will be smaller than the full repository.

One goal of publishing this data is to facilitate a quantitatively informed discussion of the role of amphitheaters in the Roman Empire. The two maps included one starting point of that discussion.

Map of All Known Amphitheaters

The figure "Map of All Known Amphitheaters" places dots that represent the location of all amphitheaters currently represented in this dataset on an outline map of the Roman Empire and on a schematic map of rivers and modern country boundaries. The outline map of the Roman empire is a product of the Ancient World Mapping Center (AWMC) based at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. The AWMC makes an ESRI Shapefile available under an open license.

Such a map is useful and immediately makes clear that amphitheaters are not evenly spaced throughout the empire. They are more common in the west, with a noticeable concentration in Italy and the part of North African closest to Italy. Amphitheaters are also relatively common in Gaul, Britain, and Spain. They are less common in the eastern parts of the empire. For example, the only known amphitheater in Greece was at Corinth. This uneven distribution of these quintessentially Roman buildings is a well-known aspect of their study.

The next figure 'Amphitheaters likely to have been in-use during the Second Century AD' highlights one particular difficulty in making a single map that purports to represent the phenomenon of amphitheaters during the imperial period. That is the fact - a word used advisedly - that there is no one point in time when all known amphitheaters is simultaneously in use. This observation is most easily highlighted by noting that the destruction of the amphitheater at Pompeii in AD 79 came before the formal opening of the Flavian Amphitheater in Rome. Accordingly, the two amphitheaters that have a claim to being the most famous by way of modern estimation and which together had a seating capacity of approximately 70,000 were not in use at the same time. The following map, then, is a working attempt to show only those amphitheaters that would have been in use during the Second Century. Note that well-known later examples, including the second amphitheater at El Djem in Tunisia, are excluded.

Going forward, most of the maps and other visualizations will include only amphitheaters that have a high probability of having been in use during the Second Century.

Amphitheaters likely to have been in use during the Second Century AD

The two maps above use identical markers for all amphitheaters. This obscures variation within the group, particularly as regards to size. The figure 'Index plot of all amphitheater sizes' provides a visual indication of the great range in amphitheater sizes that existed in the empire. In this chart, amphitheaters sizes are arranged from left to right with their placement on the vertical axis indicating the exterior length through the major, or longer, axis of the approximately oval shape of each example. It is notable that Rome's Flavian Amphitheater is represented by the marker near the upper right corner of the chart. That is one indication that it is an exceptional structure. It is of course not unusual in an ancient empire for the capital city to be exceptional as to its own size and to have exceptional examples of forms of public architecture. But only recognizing that all other amphitheaters are smaller and that most amphitheaters were much smaller allows the exceptionalism of the Flavian Amphitheater to be introduced into a discussion of the role of amphitheaters in the empire's provinces.

Index plot of all amphitheater sizes

Citation practices for datasets are still being discussed and developed by the academic community. In order to facilitate best practices, roman-amphitheaters is periodically compiled as a distinct release with that version being made available via the archiving service Upon these releases, that version of the data and related material receives a Document Object Identifiers (DOI), which can be found near the top of this document. If the material being cited is in a released version, the DOI can be used to find an appropriate citation format. If citation is being made to a version committed to, the following template may be useful:

If appropriate, citation can include reference to a specific git commit id.

Colosseum – Rome

The Colosseum in Rome, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is probably the most recognised and prestigious amphitheatres in Europe. It is also the largest amphitheatre ever built. Rumours are that it could hold a capacity of between 50,000 to 80,000. The arena covered an area of 83 metres by 48 metres. Unfortunately, due to natural causes such as earthquakes this incredible structure has been damaged but it still stands proud. Located right in the centre of Rome it is the cities most popular tourist attraction.

Uthina Amphitheatre

This is another amphitheatre that is based in Tunisia, although it is certainly fair to say that it lags a long way behind the main one in El Djem.

Nevertheless, it is a worthwhile visit if you have the time and while it is now mainly in ruins, it still paints a solid image of what experiences did occur at this arena.

Roman Theaters and Amphitheaters in Italy

The Amphitheater in Syracuse, Sicily

By Samantha Hussey from The Wandering Wanderluster

The Roman Empire was once the most extensive in the world. During their 500 year rule over Europe, the Romans left behind a multitude of innovations, artistic and cultural foundations, and a host of grand monuments including some pretty spectacular Roman theaters and amphitheaters, the most famous of them being, of course, the Colosseum in Rome.

Far less known is the Roman amphitheater of Syracuse in Sicily. The Romans ruled over Sicily for over 6 centuries. At the time, Syracuse was a major port for trade coming from Africa to Europe.

Although not as grand as the neighboring Greek Theater, the Roman Amphitheater in Syracuse’s Archaeological Park of Neapolis is very well preserved. The seats carved into the rock, tunnels, and the arena still completely visible. Built between 4C – 3C BC, the amphitheater was used for gladiatorial games. It is thought that the rectangle hole in the middle of the arena was used either for scenic machinery or as a large drain for the blood and remains of animals and, unfortunately, gladiators.

You can walk along the top ring of the amphitheater that measures just over 140m, making it the third-largest amphitheater in Italy. Located within the Archeological Park of Neapolis, entry to the theatre is through the combined 10€ ticket for the whole park. The park is open daily, including holidays from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. Because of the enormous quantity of sights worth visiting inside the park and the extensive size of the area, you should plan to spend at least 2 hours visiting at a leisurely pace.

The Ancient Theater in Taormina, Sicily

By Katy Clarke from Untold Travel

Built by the Greeks and renovated by the Romans, the Ancient Theater in Taormina is one of the most spectacular sights in Sicily, if not the world. From its seats, you can see Sicily’s active volcano Mount Etna smoldering in the background and the Bay of Naxos to your left. It’s an incredible setting for all kinds of performances.

Construction of the theater took place in the 3rd century B.C. and in its heyday, the theater could hold over 5000 spectators. They came to watch musical performances, plays and gladiatorial battles in the custom-built arena. These days the theater is still used for concerts in the summer by some of the world’s top artists. You can also visit and explore the archaeological site on your own or with a guide.

You’ll find the theater in the center of Taormina, a small town in the south of Sicily. Opening hours are from 09:00 AM to 4:00 PM with a later opening in summer. Tickets cost 10€ for adults which is a small price to pay for one of the best views in Italy.

The Amphitheater in Lecce, Italy

The Roman Amphitheater is one of the top attractions in Lecce. Located at the heart of the city in Piazza Sant’Oronzo, it is impossible to miss. It was completely covered until the end of the 19th century when it was discovered by chance.

Even now, only about a third of the structure is visible. The rest is still under the main square and the surrounding buildings. Around the unearthed amphitheater, a triumphal arch and the beautiful column of Sant’Oronzo complete the view. Coffee shops line the square, which is a very popular spot during the evenings, when the buildings lit up.

The amphitheater probably dates from the 2nd century AD, though the first structure might date to the Augustan Era. The elliptical arena could probably host about 14000 people.

In the gallery, you can see fragments of bas-reliefs showing venationes as well as Latin inscriptions. The venationes were fights between humans and exotic animals.

The site is free to visit for a glimpse into the past of the ancient Lupiae. The amphitheater in Lecce still hosts some events from time to time.

A great way to experience Lecce is to have a walking tour with food tastings along the way.

The Amphitheater in Pompeii, Italy

Pompeii needs little or no introduction at all. It’s one of those rare cases when a city became famous for being completely destroyed. The violent eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD buried Pompeii under a thick layer of ash and volcanic debris. It was that same cataclysm that allowed the city to be preserved untouched for so many centuries.

The Amphitheater in Pompeii is the oldest stone structure of its kind dating from 70 BC. An amphitheater is, in fact, a theater mirrored into an elliptical shape.

The amphitheater in Pompeii stood in a peripheral area of the town. Spectators from other towns could come to enjoy the gladiatorial games without interfering with Pompeians’ day-to-day life. The arena could host up to 20000 spectators in its three different sections of the sitting area, according to their social class. The most important people of Pompeii sat closer to the arena, while the plebeians accessed the upper seats by the external staircases.

The parapet dividing the arena from the seating area is covered in frescoes depicting gladiators while on the upper side the names of the magistrates of the time are still readable. You can also see the rings where the velarium was fixed when it rained.
Pompeii Archaeological Park is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 Am to 7:00 PM with the last admission at 5:30 PM. A full ticket is 14.50€ with an added 1.50€ for pre-booking. It is an extensive site, so I recommend a full day trip to Pompeii from Naples or Sorrento.

To make the most of your time in Pompeii, book this tour guided by an archaeologist.

The Roman Theater in Ostia Antica, Italy

Ostia was Ancient Rome’s main seaport. Situated at the mouth of the Tiber, the port was the entry gate for Rome’s massive influx of goods and slaves.

As a Roman colony, Ostia had all the features of a standard Roman city. Agrippa built the theater in Ostia on Decumanus Maximus (the main street in any Roman city), during the reign of Augustus.

The original theater could seat about 3000 people and it was later enlarged to almost double capacity in its present form during Commodus’ reign.

The theater has been restored and hosts concerts every summer. The wall behind the stage disappeared, and the view opens up towards the unique Square of the Guilds.

You can visit Ostia Antica Archaeological Park Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM and later during the summer. A full ticket is 8€.

To start your day trip to Ostia Antica from Rome, you can take the metro (line B) to Piramide station and then take the train to Roma Lido.

Visiting the archaeological site with a local guide might also be a good idea.

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy

I know some of you scrolled directly down here. The Colosseum is the most noteworthy of all Roman Amphitheaters, the most important symbol of Rome for millennia.

The Colosseum, also known as The Flavian Amphitheater, was completed in 80 AD and became the largest Roman Amphitheater. It could host more than 50000 people that came to watch gladiators, animal fights, and even executions which were also considered entertainment. Unlike any of the earlier Roman amphitheaters, the Colosseum is a freestanding structure, not dug into a hillside.

The amphitheater had a complicated velarium system to protect spectators from the sun. The underground of the Colosseum also hosts an extensive network of tunnels, cells, and machinery that kept the show going and the animals and prisoners locked in.

The Colosseum is one of the seven wonders of the modern world and is every year, more than 6 million people visit it. Along with the Vatican, it is one of the major tourist attractions in Rome.

It is open daily from 10.30 AM to 7:15 PM, with last entry one hour before closure.

The admission to the Colosseum costs 16€ or 22€ for the full experience and all tickets include Roman Forum and Palatine Hill access.

To make sure you don’t spend more time queuing than inside the Colosseum, make sure to get a skip-the-line tour with access to the Arena. Another option is to buy a Roma Pass that will allow you to skip-the-line access to the Colosseum and also includes the use of public transport in Rome.

Marcellus Theater in Rome, Italy

The Theater of Marcellus is the oldest of all Roman theaters, still standing. Julius Caesar originally commissioned the theater but he didn’t live to see the finished project. Augustus, his successor, continued the construction and finished it in 13 BC. He dedicated the theater to his favorite nephew, Marcus Marcellus.

At the time, it was the largest of all Roman Theaters built across the Empire. It could hold more than 11000 people and the first row was reserved for the senators. Actors performed dramas, dance, and music in the Theater of Marcellus in its heyday.
During the Middle Ages, the abandoned theater was used as a fortress. Later on, the Savelli family changed it into what we see today. They replaced the top tier of seats with private apartments and the family used the old theater as a private palazzo. The upper floor is still inhabited to this day.

The grounds are open to visit anytime and visiting the theater and Octavia’s Portico nearby is one of the most popular free things to do in Rome.

The Roman Arena in Verona, Italy

The stunning Arena in Verona is one of the best-preserved Roman Amphitheaters anywhere. It stands in Piazza Bra right outside of Medieval Verona city gates. In ancient times, the Romans built the Arena outside the city walls. It could host up to 30000 spectators, and people came from afar to see the games here.

The Romans built the amphitheater in 30 AD, and the original structure had three rings. Unfortunately, the outer ring made of white and pink local limestone was destroyed by an earthquake. Only a small part of the arched façade survives today, the wing.

During Medieval times, the city also used the arens as a stone quarry, to carry out construction all over Verona.

In the 20th century, the Verona Arena recovered its glory by becoming a venue for Opera theater. In 1913, Aida by Giuseppe Verde was staged at the Verona Arena for the first time. Since then, the Arena became the main venue for Opera events in Verona every summer. Rock concerts also play here in less troubled times.

The Roman Arena in Verona is open to visiting on Mondays from 1:30 PM to 7:30 PM and Tuesday to Sunday from 8:30 AM to 7:30 PM and a full ticket costs 10€.

You can also book a skip-the-line guided tour of the Arena or even an Opera package for one evening.

The Best Roman Amphitheaters You Can Go To For A Piece Of Ancient History

Azhar Alvi Business Travel August 26, 2019

One thousand five hundred years ago if you asked people what they did for entertainment, there would not be an awful lot to talk about.

Humanity was still in the discovery phase, and much of its activity centered on exploration. In the vicinity of the 5 AD period, where much of the human civilization was relegated to Asia and Europe, there was the Roman Empire, and apart from the expansion of the Empire that the elite class did, it entertained itself with gladiatorial fights and sports of every physical kind.

Human and animal life was cheap, and plenty to go by, and such entertainment happened inside grand establishments called amphitheaters.

They were places where every man, woman, and child went to have a taste of visceral action, and though that kind of entertainment has long been phased out for humanitarian and peaceful reasons, the amphitheaters themselves have stood the test of time and are now popular tourist attractions.

This article lists the best Roman Amphitheaters you can go to for a piece of ancient history.

    The Colosseum (Rome)
    It is little wonder that the Colosseum, one of the most famous and well-documented amphitheaters in the world would top the list, simply because of its grand scale and its intricate underground pathways that give you an idea of how the gladiators would prepare for the show, barbaric or not. There is a museum that can offer you a glimpse of the hardy life these people went through in the name of entertainment. A definite visit.


Ancient Rome had a range of venues for public entertainment, which in modern terminology are separated into four types:

  • the theatre was used for dramatic, music and dance
  • the stadium served for athletic competitions
  • the amphitheater for blood games
  • the circus or hippodrome for horse and chariot races,

while it is true that facilities which physically allowed it were used to accommodate performances commonly reserved for other building types. [8]

Ancient Roman amphitheatres were major public venues, circular or oval in plan, with perimeter seating tiers. They were used for events such as gladiator combats, chariot races, [ dubious – discuss ] venationes (animal hunts) and executions. About 230 Roman amphitheatres have been found across the area of the Roman Empire. Their typical shape, functions and name distinguish them from Roman theatres, which are more or less semicircular in shape from the circuses (similar to hippodromes) whose much longer circuits were designed mainly for horse or chariot racing events and from the smaller stadia, which were primarily designed for athletics and footraces. [9]

The earliest Roman amphitheatres date from the middle of the first century BCE, but most were built under Imperial rule, from the Augustan period (27 BCE–14 CE) onwards. [10] Imperial amphitheatres were built throughout the Roman empire the largest could accommodate 40,000–60,000 spectators. The most elaborate featured multi-storeyed, arcaded façades and were elaborately decorated with marble, stucco and statuary. [11] The best-known ancient amphitheatre is the Colosseum in Rome, which is more correctly termed the Flavian amphitheatre (Amphitheatrum Flavium), after the Flavian dynasty who had it built. [ citation needed ] After the end of gladiatorial games in the 5th century and of staged animal hunts in the 6th, most amphitheatres fell into disrepair. Their materials were mined or recycled. Some were razed, and others were converted into fortifications. A few continued as convenient open meeting places in some of these, churches were sited. [12]

In modern usage, an amphitheatre is a circular, semicircular or curved, acoustically vibrant performance space, particularly one located outdoors. Contemporary amphitheatres often include standing structures, called bandshells, sometimes curved or bowl-shaped, both behind the stage and behind the audience, creating an area which echoes or amplifies sound, making the amphitheatre ideal for musical or theatrical performances. Small-scale amphitheatres can serve to host outdoor local community performances.

Notable modern amphitheatres include the Shoreline Amphitheatre, the Hollywood Bowl and the Aula Magna at Stockholm University. The term "amphitheatre" is also used for some indoor venues such as the (by now demolished) Gibson Amphitheatre.

A natural amphitheatre is a performance space located in a spot where a steep mountain or a particular rock formation naturally amplifies or echoes sound, making it ideal for musical and theatrical performances. An amphitheatre can be naturally occurring formations which would be ideal for this purpose, even if no theatre has been constructed there.

Notable natural amphitheatres include the Drakensberg amphitheatre in South Africa, Slane Castle in Ireland, the Supernatural Amphitheatre in Australia, and the Red Rocks and Gorge amphitheatres in the western United States.

Ostia Antica

TripSavvy / Christopher Larson

The ancient Roman port of Ostia Antica can easily be visited as a day trip from Rome. Visitors can wander around the old streets, shops, and houses of this huge complex. The amphitheater, built in 12BC, has a small stage and once held about 3500 spectators.

About the Author

Globetrotting Editor - You might say that Aren was destined to become a Globetrotter after his family took him to Germany two times before he was four. If that wasn’t enough, a term spent in Sweden as a young teenager and a trek across Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand confirmed that destiny. An independent writer, director, and film critic, Aren has travelled across Asia, Europe, and South America. His favourite travel experience was visiting the major cities of Japan’s largest island, Honshu, but his love for food, drink, and film will take him anywhere that boasts great art and culture.

  • Author : Source Wikipedia
  • Publisher :
  • Release Date : 2013-09
  • Genre:
  • Pages : 26
  • ISBN 10 : 1230618147

Please note that the content of this book primarily consists of articles available from Wikipedia or other free sources online. Pages: 25. Chapters: Roman amphitheatres in France, Roman amphitheatres in Italy, Roman amphitheatres in the United Kingdom, Capua, Rimini, Aosta, List of Roman amphitheatres, Chester Roman Amphitheatre, Larino, Pula Arena, Sutri, Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls, Arenes de Lutece, Flavian Amphitheater, Verona Arena, Arles Amphitheatre, Cirencester Amphitheatre, Amphitheatre of Pompeii, Merida amphitheatre, Arena of Nimes, Maumbury Rings, Guildhall Art Gallery, Milan amphitheatre, Tarragona Amphitheatre, Durres Amphitheatre, Roman Amphitheatre of Florence, Amphitheatre of Serdica. Excerpt: The remains of at least 230 amphitheatres have been found widely scattered areas of the Roman Empire. These are usually oval, and are not to be confused with the more common "ordinary" theatres, which are semicircular structures. There are, however, a number of buildings that have had a combined use as both theatre and amphitheatre, particularly in western Europe. Following is a list of Roman amphitheatre locations by country. Related modern building structures Rimini (Italian pronunciation: , Latin name Ariminum) is a medium-sized city of 142,579 inhabitants in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, and capital city of the Province of Rimini. It is located on the Adriatic Sea, on the coast between the rivers Marecchia (the ancient Ariminus) and Ausa (ancient Aprusa). It is one of the most famous seaside resorts in Europe, thanks to its 15 km-long sandy beach, over 1,000 hotels and thousands of bars, restaurants and discos. The first bathing establishment opened in 1843. An art city with ancient Roman and Renaissance monuments, Rimini is the hometown of the famous film director Federico Fellini as well. Founded by the Romans in 268 BC, throughout their period of rule Rimini was a key communications link between the north and south of the.

Watch the video: Roman AmpiTheatre top view (August 2022).