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Roman Amphitheatres in Europe

Roman Amphitheatres in the form of ellipses appeared at the beginning of our era. In Asia Minor, the influence of Greek culture was strong, so there the amphitheaters had a classical Greek form. They staged theatrical performances.

In Italy, amphitheatres have been preserved, where theatrical performances were no longer staged. The Romans loved bloody performances: gladiator fights, animal baiting, sea battles. All this was arranged for the entertainment of the public. The Roman emperors believed that the people must be given bread and circuses.

Several Roman amphitheatres have survived to this day:

  • Colosseum in Rome
  • Arena di Verona
  • Tarragona Amphitheatre
  • Pompeii Amphitheatre

Follow the hyperlinks to read in detail about each amphitheater and see a large number of photos

Colosseum in Rome

Amphitheatre Colosseum (the Coliseum) also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre is  a symbol of the greatness of the Roman Empire and modern Italy. And indeed the Coliseum is the most significant architectural monument of the Ancient Rome. Its construction began under the emperor Vespasian in 72 AD and was completed in 80 AD under his son and heir Titus. The amphitheatre could hold up to 70,000 thousand people. 

The today Coliseum is but 30% of the ancient Colosseum. In 217 AD the Colosseum (Coliseum) was badly damaged by the big fire caused by lightning. The amphitheatre was repaired but lost its former grandeur. The bloody gladiator fights were prohibited in 405, after Christianity was made the official religion (in 370). And the last animal hunt was held at the Coliseum in 573. 

Arena di Verona

The Roman amphitheatre in Verona, called the Arena di Verona, is one of the largest in the world. Moreover, if other amphitheatres are in ruins nowadays, the Verona’s amphitheatre is in good preservation and its acoustics are excellent. Every summer, the Arena di Verona hosts the famous Opera festival.

The construction of the amphitheatre in Verona was started in 30 AD during the reign of Emperor Tiberius. The famous Colosseum in Rome was built by the Emperor Vespasian in 72, 50 years later. 

The arena of the amphitheatre is an ellipse, with galleries that support the stands. The internal area of the Arena di Verona is 73 x 44 meters, while the external area reaches 153 x 124 meters. Arena di Verona on its 44 tiers accommodates 30 thousand spectators. In the days of Ancient Rome there had a traditional Gladiator fights, as well as nemaha (naval battles). 

Tarragona Amphitheatre

The Roman amphitheatre in Tarragona is one of the main attractions. It was built in the 2nd century AD and has been preserved to this day in very good condition. The amphitheater was located behind the fortress walls on the very shore of the sea, not far from the port.

The place at the foot of the hill where Tarraco was built was the best place for the locals to relax. There was a Roman Circus and a Forum nearby. Largest Roman Amphitheater in these area was also built here. It held more than 15 thousand spectators. Here were held traditional performances for the Roman Empire: Gladiator fights, animal baiting, as well as theatrical productions.

Pompeii Amphitheatre

In 79 A.D. there was the eruption of Vesuvius. The tragedy did lead to destruction of the city; however, it preserved it as it was 2 thousand years ago. Everything had been preserved there – the layout of streets, wells and drain systems, and houses that you could literally furnish and live in.

The city was separated into different quarters by social status of the residents. There were quarters with closely spaced small huts of poor folk. The other streets were built with spacious mansions of nobility with enclosed gardens. On the south of the city there closely located the Pompeii Amphitheatre Odeon for gladiator performances and a school for young people. Both buildings are in perfect condition.