Examples of Ancient Roman Amphitheaters

When the people of ancient Rome wished to enjoy an outing in town, attending an event at an amphitheater was a popular option thousands of years ago. Throughout the region, these structures were built to accommodate gladiator contests and other activities. In this article, you will learn about two of these structures that thrived during ancient Roman days.

Amphitheatrum Castrense

The Amphitheatrum Castrense was an ancient amphitheater situated in Rome ”“ right next to the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme. Following in the Colosseum’s footsteps, it was the second ancient amphitheatre built in Rome sating back to the first decades of the 3rd century AD. Researchers were able to date the structure by the style of bricks and the absence of brick stamps. During the Severan dynasty, emperors were responsible for the building of the amphitheater as part of an Imperial villa complex.

When the Amphitheatrum Castrense was incorporated into the Aurelian Walls, the open arches of the outer walls were walled up and the ground level around the building was lowered. To accommodate defensive needs, the remains of the second story underwent demolition in the middle of the 16th century. The record of these ruins was made in drawings by Palladio and Etienne Duperac.

When the Amphitheatrum Castrense was constructed, it was in the shape of a regular ellipse that measured 88 meters long and 75.80 meters wide. During those times, buildings were made out of stone, but this amphitheater was constructed out of brick with a few decorative features fashioned out of travertine. The original structure was three stories high. However, only a section found of the lowest story has survived the test of time and has been preserved.

Amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus

Built in 29 BC, the Amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus in Rome replaced some of the temporary structures that were constructed and then disassembled after events. The money for the project did not come from the government, but was instead funded by Titus Statilius Taurus, who used his own money. Taurus was a prosperous general and the first in a long line of Roman senators who would all eventually take this title. He lived during the time of Emperor Augustus’ rule and had accumulated much of his wealth during his career. When the first gladiatorial games were held in the amphitheater, he also paid for those as well.

The location of the amphitheater was on the Campus Martius (which translates into “Field of Mars”) was a publicly owned area during ancient Roman times that measured about 2 square kilometers (or 490 acres). During the Middle Ages, this region would become the most populated place in Rome. When the amphitheater was built, Rome was enjoying a period where numerous temples and theaters were being constructed. Other structures that joined the amphitheater’s space was the Theater of Pompey, the Theater of Marcellus, and the Theater of Balbus.

The Amphitheatre of Statilius Taurus was not a large building and it did not gain the attention and respect of other buildings. In 57 AD, the infamous Nero felt the need to build a new wooden amphitheater called the Amphithetrum Neronis to replace it. During the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD, Rome was not the only thing to fall to ashes ”“ both amphitheaters were completely destroyed.