Famous Roman Amphitheaters

When you think of Roman entertainment, you might think of brutal fights between prisoners and animals (like in the movie Gladiator) or races between chariots (like in the movie Ben-Hur). Gladiator fights were usually held in amphitheaters, while chariot races were generally held in the circus. The fights between criminals, war prisoners, slaves, and animals show how the Romans lived and what kind of people they were. The Romans thought that these fights were good training for a country of warriors. Free people would sometimes join the fight to get their 15 minutes of fame.

The first Roman amphitheaters were built out of wood in the 1st century BC. They were made by rotating and connecting two stages built next to each other so that they formed an oval shape. More than 230 amphitheaters have been found all over the Roman Empire. These range from the huge Colosseum in Rome to the arena sites in Chester, England.

List of Famous Roman Amphitheaters:

Uthina Amphitheater

Uthina (or Oudna) in Tunisia was a Roman settlement. From the south and west of the country, it was on the main road to Carthage. After the Arabs took over in the 7th century, the city seems to have been left in ruins. Few people go to the sites because they are still being dug up.

In the archaeological park, there is a Roman theater that can hold up to 16,000 people. The lower half of the amphitheater is dug into the hill, but the arcs are above the ground. The seats are not original; they were just put back together again.

Pozzuoli Amphitheater

The Pozzuoli Amphitheater is one of the biggest Roman amphitheaters in Italy. It can hold more than 20,000 people. It was built when Emperor Vespasian was in charge. He was also the one who started building the Colosseum in Rome.

Unlike the Colosseum, not many of the top-level seats remain. However, the underground areas, including the cages where animals were kept and parts of the mechanisms that moved them to the arena floor, are very well preserved. After an eruption of the volcano Solfatarain in the late antique period, the arena was left empty and partly covered with ash.

Leptis Magna Arena

Leptis Magna was built by the Phoenicians in the 10th century BC. After Carthage was defeated by the Romans in 146 BC, it became part of the Roman Empire. When the Romans were in charge, the city grew and became a major trade center.

In the year 523, a Berber group burned down Leptis Magna, and the desert quickly took over the area. It has been covered by sand from the desert for hundreds of years, but it still has one of the most beautiful and well-preserved Roman ruins in the Mediterranean.

The Roman amphitheater of Leptis Magna was built in 56 AD and is about a kilometer east of the city center. It had enough room for 16,000 people to watch the game. It is built below the ground, which is different from most Roman amphitheaters.

Famous Roman Amphitheaters
Famous Roman Amphitheaters

Roman Arena in Arles

In southern France, the Roman Arena is one of the most famous places for tourists to visit in the city of Arles. It was built in the 1st century BC and had three levels that could hold more than 20,000 people.

From 1830 until now, bullfights have been held in the ring, which the Romans would have loved because they are only slightly less violent than the chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles they liked.

Amphitheatre Nimes

The Arena of Nimes was built at the end of the first century AD and had room for 24,000 people. It was one of the largest Roman amphitheaters in Gaul, which is now France. During the Middle Ages, the arena was turned into a palace with walls around it.

Later, a small neighborhood with 700 people and two churches grew up inside its walls. In 1863, the arena was changed so that it could be used as a bullring. Today, it is still used as a bullring and hosts two annual bullfights and other public events.

Pompeii Spectacula

On August 24, 79 AD, the volcano Vesuvius exploded, sending ash and dirt over the nearby town of Pompeii. This preserved the city as it was on that day. The two theaters and the arena are some of the buildings in Pompeii that are still in good shape. It was built around 70 BC and is the oldest Roman amphitheater that still stands.

The amphitheater was called a spectacular because the word “amphitheater” had not yet been invented. It could hold about 20,000 people, which is the same as Pompeii’s whole population. In 59 AD, fans from Pompeii and a rival town got into a fight, which led the Senate to ban any more games there for ten years.

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Pula Arena

The amphitheater in Pula is one of the best-preserved old buildings in Croatia. It is the sixth biggest Roman arena that is still standing. Around the year 1 AD, the Pula Arena was built, and it could hold more than 26,000 people.

In the 15th century, many stones from the amphitheater were taken to build houses and other buildings in and around Pula. Luckily, this stopped before the whole building was destroyed. During the summer months, it is now used for many different events and shows.

Verona Arena

The Verona Arena in Italy is the third biggest Roman amphitheater that is still standing. Its outer ring, which was made of white and pink limestone, was almost destroyed by a big earthquake in 1117, but the inside is still in amazing shape.

The Verona Arena was built in the year 30 AD and could hold up to 30,000 people. The Roman amphitheater has been used for shows and games all through the ages. In Roman times, gladiator fights took place there, and in the Middle Ages, jousts and tournaments were held there. From the 18th century until today, Verona’s amazing opera performances have been held there.


The Colosseum in Rome is the biggest and most well-known Roman arena. The Flavian ruler Vespasian started building it in the year 72 AD, and his son Titus finished it in the year 80 AD.

During the 100-day opening ceremonies for the Colosseum, 5,000 animals and 2,000 gladiators were killed in shows. The Roman Colosseum could hold up to 50,000 people, and there were at least 80 ways to get into the building.

The “velarium” was a set of sails that went around the top of the attic and kept people dry and cool in the rain and sun. Any trip to Rome must include a stop at the Colosseum.

  1. What is the most famous Roman amphitheater?

    The Colosseum, a famous Roman arena, was built between 70 and 72 C.E. when the Roman Empire was at its strongest.

  2. What is the oldest Roman amphitheater?

    The first stone theater that we know for sure was built between 80 and 70 B.C. Like most of the early amphitheaters, the one in Pompeii looks simple and useful. Earthen slopes are holding up some of the seats.

  3. What is the best preserved Roman amphitheater in the world?

    In Nimes, southern France, stands the Arena of Nimes (French: Arènes de Nimes), a Roman amphitheater. Built around 100 CE, in very close proximity to the Colosseum of Rome, this amphitheater ranks among the most pristine examples of Roman architecture.


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