Want to see a well-preserved Amphitheatre with your own eyes? Here’s a list of 12 Roman Amphitheatres around the world which are definitely worth visiting.
Visiting an ancient Roman Amphitheatre is truly a powerful experience that allows you to travel back in time, and imagine the cruel and bloody battles that took place in these arenas. During the Roman Empire and its glory days, these Amphitheatres were very much a part of the daily life and played a key role in entertaining the crowds.
Even though it’s been a long time since the fall of the Roman Empire, there are still some Roman Amphitheatres that have been preserved until this day and continue to impress with their grand architecture.
What’s an Amphitheatre?
Amphitheatre comes from the Greek Amphi (around) and theatron (scene) and these were built for various types of acting, battles, and performances where the gladiator games are some of the most famous events in the Roman Amphitheatres.
An Amphitheatre is different from a standard greek theater because of its elliptical or circular form which goes around the whole arena with seating, instead of the half-shaped greek theater.
El Djem is located in Tunisia and is one of the largest Amphitheatres in the world. It’s listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and was built in Thysdrus around 280 AD.
Historians estimate that the arena could hold an attendance of 35 000 people, and it’s truly a majestic Amphitheatre worth visiting.
Nimes Arena was completed in 70 AD and is today one of the most well-preserved Roman Amphitheatres. It has a length of 133 meters and a width of 101 meters. In total, 24 000 people could see gladiator games and events here.
Sadly, although it has been almost 2000 years since the grand opening, there are still animal battles in the form of bullfighting. However, the Amphitheatre itself is definitely worth a visit.
Another spectacular Amphitheatre which isn’t as famous as the Colosseum, but almost as impressive is the one that is located in Pula, Croatia.
The Amphitheatre in Pula was built between 27 BC and 68 AD, and was first made out of wood, but was later renovated into a stone structure under the rule of emperor Claudius. The Pula Arena was later enlarged by the emperor Vespasian to make room for gladiator games, but it wasn’t fully completed during his rule.
Colosseum is the largest Amphitheatre in the world, and also the most famous one. It was built as a gift to the people of Rome and was given the name Amphiteatrum Flavium.
In total, some 87 000 people could see the bloody gladiator games, staged sea battles and animal fights that took place here. Today, it’s unthinkable to call this entertainment, but during the Roman Empire, it was perfectly normal and even exciting.
Colosseum was completed in 80 AD and was inaugurated for 100 days, which is one of many interesting facts about Colosseum. The last gladiator games took place in the 5th century.
Nowadays, it’s one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world with 4-5 million people visiting Colosseum every year. It’s also one of the new seven wonders of the world.
Arena di Verona
In Northern Italy, one could visit the ancient Amphitheatre in Verona, which is commonly known as Arena di Verona. During the Roman Empire, some 30 000 people could watch the gladiator games here.
In Medieval times, tournaments were arranged here and nowadays, you can come here to watch open-air opera shows and large events. It’s also open daily for visitors which are allowed to wander around the old seating and entrances.
It was completed in 30 AD and was even bigger then than today. Unfortunately, it was heavily damaged in the outer ring due to an earthquake in 1117.
The Amphitheatre of Uthina goes back to Emperor Hadrian and could fit an audience of 16 000 people. Uthina is located in Tunisia, which was part of the Roman province known as Africa Proconsularis.
Traveling to Libya is not high on most people’s bucket lists in the near future. However, Leptis Magna has one of the most famous Amphitheatres in the world, and additional historical attractions which are both impressive and well-preserved.
What makes this Amphitheatre so unique is the fact that it was built underground. The Max capacity is believed to have been around 16 000 people, and today, Leptis Magna is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
If you have already seen Colosseum and Arena di Verona, but still feel that you want to see more Amphitheatres in Italy, then Pozzuoli outside Naples is a place that I can recommend.
The Amphitheatrum Flavium in Pozzuoli is the third-largest Amphitheatre in Italy after Colosseum and Capuan and is believed to have been built by the same architects that built Colosseum.
As many as 50 000 people could have watched the gladiator games here during the glory days of the Roman Empire.
The Amphitheatre in Pompeii
Pompeii is yet another exciting destination in Italy which is mostly famous for been buried by ashes from Mount Vesuvius, who had a violent eruption that buried the nearby villages in lava.
Pompeii was a prominent Roman city at the time of the eruption, and there are many archeological findings that are well-preserved thanks to the ashes that buried the place for centuries.
The Amphitheatre in Pompeii is one of the oldest still standing in the world, and historians believe it was built some 70 years AD. In total, around 20 000 people could see gladiator games and other events here.
Amphitheatre of Arles
The Amphitheatre in Arles, France was built 90 years BC and is very impressive and well-preserved. In the Arena, some bloody fights between gladiators took place frequently, and some 20 000 people watched the spectacle.
Nowadays, the arena is being used for bullfighting and concerts.
If you’re traveling to Spain, namely to Tarragona, you can visit the ancient Roman Amphitheatre which was built sometime during the 1st century AD. In total, about 15 000 people could fit here, and even if it has seen better days, it’s still an interesting place to visit.
Augusta Emerita was a Roman colony that was founded about 25 years BC. Not much of it is left except the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre which had room for 15 000 people.
Only the bottom level of the arena is intact today since the people took the stones from the upper levels to make other buildings.
More about the Amphitheatres in the world
Most of the world’s Amphitheatres dates back to the Roman Empire, who built many of these to make rooms for gladiator games and other events and entertainment for the people.
Today, there are some 230 Amphitheatres left in the world which are preserved in areas that were controlled by the Romans during that time. What characterizes an Amphitheatre is its large size and shape, which is either circular or elliptic.
There is no roof, and the arena will have a center point that is dedicated to performances. It also has seating around the arena in several stages with stairs.
What many don’t know is that it doesn’t have to be a Roman Amphitheatre to count as an Amphitheatre, and the fact is that there are some modern Amphitheatres around the world as well. One such example can be found in Sweden, namely in Hammarby Sjöstad in Stockholm where you can see a large wooden Amphitheatre.
Have you visited a cool Amphitheatre somewhere? Leave a comment below!