About Merida Amphitheatre
Merida Amphitheatre is a reasonably well preserved Ancient Roman amphitheatre in the Spanish city of Merida. Together with other ancient sites, such as the Merida Roman Theatre and the Guadiana Bridge, Merida Amphitheatre is a UNESCO World Heritage site known as the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida.
Merida Amphitheatre history
The Emperor Augustus (63 BC – AD 14) established the Roman colony known as Augusta Emerita – later to become modern Merida – in 25 BC. Soon after its founding, Augusta Emerita became the capital of Lusitania and, as an important city of the empire, had several impressive public buildings. Merida Amphitheatre was one of these.
Completed in 8 BC and able to seat up to 15,000 spectators, this elliptical amphitheatre would have been a bustling venue where provincial Romans of all social standings would have gone to watch gladiatorial games and beast hunts (known as veniatones). The amphitheatre was finally abandoned in the 4th century AD as the spread of Christianity across the Western Roman Empire forbade the games as ‘sinful’.
Merida Amphitheatre today
Today, standing adjacent to the equally (if not more) impressive Merida Theatre, the walls of Merida Amphitheatre are still intact together with some of its seats and its gateways showing a detailed outline of what it would have looked like in its day.
It takes little imagination to imagine the roaring crowds who would have packed the stadium and tensely watched the action below. The amphitheatre is open to visitors between 9am and 6.30pm (9pm during the summer) every day and is an unmissable stop along any tour of the ancient Roman city of Merida.
Getting to Merida Amphitheatre
For those driving, you can park on the street outside and, because Merida is a small city, can walk the Roman ruins trail following the red signs. Otherwise, Merida’s train station is only a 15 minute walk away and serves the Intercity, MD and REG.EXP lines. The train to Madrid takes 5 hour and costs around 40€ while from Seville the train takes 3 hours and costs 20€.