Campania Amphitheatre - History and Facts | History Hit

Campania Amphitheatre

Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Campania, Italy

Campania Amphitheatre was second in size only to Rome’s Colosseum.

Antara Bate

14 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Campania Amphitheatre

Campania Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Campano) in Santa Maria Capua Vetere was the second largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire after the Colosseum.

Campania Amphitheatre history

At its zenith, Campania Amphitheatre would have been a grand four-tiered structure able to seat up to 60,000 people and adorned with beautiful monuments from columns to sculptures.

Located in the city of Capua, which was at one time possibly the largest city in Italy, the existing Campania Amphitheatre was the second amphitheatre to be built on the site. Started by Emperor Nerva and continued by Trajan and Hadrian, it was completed in 138 AD.

The building originally had an elliptical plan, on a larger scale than the Flavian amphitheatre in Rome, from which it took architectural inspiration. Unfortunately, much of Campania Amphitheatre has been destroyed over the years, ravaged by the Visigoths, the Vandals and the Saracens. Although no longer intact, the building was illustrated by numerous scholars in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Campania Amphitheatre today

Externally, only the first level and part of the second tier of Campania Amphitheatre survive. However, there is still much to see at the site, including subterranean tunnels showing the workings of the amphitheatre.

Guided tours of the site must be booked in advance. There is also an on-site Gladiator Museum, which explores the history of Campania Amphitheatre as well as that of those who fought in the amphitheatres of Ancient Rome.

Getting to Campania Amphitheatre

It is a 30 minute drive from Naples International Airport. The nearest station is Santa Maria Capua Vetere which is 15 minutes walk away from the site.