It doesn’t matter whether you are a history-buff or just heading to a destination to soak in a bit of local culture; Roman amphitheatres can spark interest in practically everyone.
From the immense construction, to the entertainment events that once took place, they are some of the most intriguing attractions around.
While many of these amphitheatres have been buried, or even destroyed, there are a select few in the world which stand proud to this day. Here, we’ll take a look at our top ten.
There’s no doubt that Pompeii Spectacula is the least well-preserved arena on our list but, it’s well worth a visit. A volcano is the reason for this venue’s demise, with the Vesuvius eruption covering the whole town of Pompeii in ash.
Nevertheless, the fact it was built in 70 BC means that it is one of the oldest amphitheatres in the world and while some elements of it might be overgrown, it’s still possible to get a feel for what life for the Romans really was like and appreciate the general overview of the structure.
Leptis Magna Arena
This is perhaps one of the most derelict amphitheatres around, but still worth a visit nevertheless.
The reason why it remains largely incomplete is because it was abandoned back in 523 AD, after being sacked by a Berber tribe. This actually meant that it was left deserted in the desert; completely immersed by the sands.
It’s for this very reason that the ruins of Leptis Magna are some of the best around, with the sand preserving the ancient stone and allowing visitors to appreciate the craft that went into the construction of these arenas.
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.
The Pozzuoli Amphitheatre might have been initiated by the same emperor who ordered the construction of the famous Colosseum in Rome, but it would be fair to say that this attraction offers a slightly different experience.
Unfortunately, a lot of the upper sections of the arena have been destroyed, although if you do venture into the lower regions a lot is still very well preserved. For example, it’s possible to see the cages that used to be used for keeping the animals, while even the systems that were used to lift them into the arena itself are still intact.
This all comes despite the fact that a volcano threatened to destroy the whole attraction, with the eruption temporarily leaving the amphitheatre buried many years ago.
Some would suggest that the Verona Arena is in remarkably good condition considering some of its history, with an earthquake threatening to completely destroy it back in 1117.
Fortunately, this only affected the outer ring and if you venture towards the inner section you will get a great insight into what life in this Italian arena was once like.
While it doesn’t quite hold the 30,000 spectators that it was once capable of doing, the Verona Arena is still used to this day with the authorities mainly organising opera performances.
Roman Arena in Arles
Back in its prime, the Roman Arena boasted a capacity of 20,000 spectators spread across three tiers. It still proves to be one of Southern France’s most popular tourist destinations and this is probably because the authorities have still managed to keep it in a highly preserved state.
This can be emphasised through some of its current uses, with numerous bullfights being held there over recent years.
Based in Croatia, this is another example of an arena that has been preserved fantastically over the years. It’s one of the oldest around, having been constructed around the 1st century AD, and back in its prime it was possible for 26,000 spectators to be housed there.
It’s not quite as complete as it once was, with the authorities opting to use a lot of stone for the structure to build the surrounding houses, but one could suggest that this adds to the whole charm of the area.
It is still able to hold numerous festivals during the summer, which speaks volumes about just how complete the Pula Arena is.
Amphitheatre Nimes in France
It would be fair to say that Amphitheatre Nimes doesn’t hold the world-renowned reputation that the previous entries have.
With a capacity of 24,000 people, it’s significantly smaller, but once upon a time it was actually one of the biggest in the worlds due to its early construction at the end of the 1st century AD.
Over time it has certainly changed and after holding its first bullfight in 1863, this is what it is mainly used for. It’s most definitely one of the most preserved arenas in the world, with the authorities holding no fewer than two bullfights here every year.
Amphitheatre El Djem in Tunisia
This is another particularly famous amphitheatre and happens to be the third largest in the world, after holding a capacity of 35,000 back in its peak.
Unsurprisingly, it’s by no means in its former complete state, but it is still one of the more preserved arenas in the world and even allows guests to venture underground and cast their eyes along the dungeons that used to house contestants.
The fact that scenes from the famous Gladiator movie were filmed at El Djem says everything you need to know about its status and completeness.
Colosseum in Rome
Few people will be surprised to see that the Colosseum in Rome is at the top of our list. It’s one of the most famous attractions in the world and whether you are interested in history or not, it will be at the top of your “to see” list if you ever do venture out to Italy’s capital.
The construction of the Colosseum started in 72AD and took eight years; with the result being a venue that could hold approximately 50,000 spectators.
Thousands of gladiators and animals have fallen to their death at this arena over history and despite its deep roots, much of the structure still remains intact meaning that it makes for a superb day out.