Ancient Roman Amphitheater in Pula at dawn, Croatia. Image credit Saga Photo and Video via Shutterstock

6 Amphitheaters of Ancient Rome

Chariot races and gladiator fights were Ancient Roman entertainment, but it is where these events took place that gives a true glimpse into the past. Ancient Roman amphitheaters, which are large, open-air circular or oval venues with raised, tiered seating, are sights to behold.

The amphitheaters reveal the beauty of Ancient Roman architecture, as well as how the empire expanded as the Roman army swept across the land. Many are still in use today, hosting more modern events such as historical reenactments and operas. 

Below, you'll learn all about several famous amphitheaters of Ancient Rome, discovering the history of each. Plus, you can still visit them all today!


Daytime view of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy. Image credits: Edyttka1388 via Pixabay

If you visit Rome, the Colosseum is a wonder of the world you can't miss. Originally known as the Flavian Amphitheater, the structure officially opened in 80 CE. It is both the largest and the most famous Ancient Roman amphitheater.

The intricate design was repeated many times throughout the Roman Empire, featuring a uniquely decorated exterior, many entrances, and a wall that separated (and protected) onlookers from the action going on below.

While a combination of earthquakes and neglect has impacted the Colosseum, a restoration project began in the 1990s. Today, the building undergoes consistent restoration to ensure it still has the same "wow" factor it did when it was built.

Pula Arena

Pula Arena in Pula, Croatia. Image credits: steinchen via Pixabay

Now located in Pula, Croatia, the Pula Arena was originally constructed from wood during the time of Augustus in 27 BCE. It was replaced in 68 CE with a stone structure, which is why it still stands today.

The Pula Arena is also the only remaining amphitheater to have four side towers and all three Roman architectural orders. It is also enclosed with a wall and seats over 23,000 spectators.

If you pay a visit to this famed amphitheater in Croatia, you can also check out one of the walled cities of the world: the Walls of Dubrovnik. 

Arles Amphitheater

The Amphitheater of Arles. Image credits: Pfüderi via Pixabay

The Arles Amphitheater, now located in the Southern French town of Arles, was originally built around 80 or 90 CE in Ancient Rome. The two-tiered structure has a total length of around 450 feet and seats around 25,000 people.

Today, you can visit the Arles Amphitheater and enjoy a play or art show. And if you tour through Arles, you can also stop at one of the many museums and historical buildings for an enriching and educational experience of multiple world heritage sites

El Jem Amphitheater

El Jem amphitheater in Tunisia. Image credits: Penstones via Pixabay

The El Jem amphitheater is located in modern-day North Africa and is large enough to seat over 35,000 spectators. Built entirely from stone blocks, this structure is also designed after the Colosseum.

The podium, arena, tiered seating, outer walls, and underground passageways are all mainly intact and ready for exploration.

If you pay a visit to the El Jem amphitheater in Tunisia, you should also consider visiting the Sahara desert and perhaps the two-and-a-half-hour trek to the Egyptian pyramids

Verona Arena

Nighttime view of Verona Arena in Verona, Italy. Image credits: etiennepezzuto92 via Pixabay

Located in Verona, Italy, the Verona Arena is a short trek away from the Colosseum. Completed in 30 CE, the structure could once hold over 30,000 visitors. Unfortunately, the outer ring was damaged during an earthquake in 1117, though a small portion of the third level still remains.

Today, visitors can enjoy opera performances and concerts during the summer. If you pay a visit to Verona to check out this amphitheater, it's worth it to head over to Rome as well! Of course, there are many things to visit and enjoy in Verona and throughout Italy.

Nimes Arena

Daytime view of Nimes Arena in Nimes, France. Image credits: guy_dugas via Pixabay

Similar to the Arles Amphitheater, the Nimes Arena is located in France, though it is found in the small town of Nimes. It is now over 2,000 years old, and still used for numerous events today, such as bullfighting, concerts, and more.

While the town is mainly popularized for its Roman architecture, such as the Maison Carrée, the Temple of Diana, and Tour Magne, you can also check out the beautiful scenery and several small museums.

If you pay a visit to Paris, definitely check out Nimes by taking a high-speed train to the small town!

Rome-ing Through the Amphitheaters of Ancient Rome

While the Colosseum is one of the most famous structures in the world, it is worth checking out the other amphitheaters if you travel nearby. They feature unique architecture, act as a venue for many exciting events, and tell a tale thousands of years old. 

Have you ever paid a visit to one of these monuments? Share in the comments below!


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