Tarragona Amphitheatre - History and Facts | History Hit

Tarragona Amphitheatre

Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain

Tarragona Amphitheatre is a second century AD construction would once have played host to gladiatorial battles.

Antara Bate

28 Jul 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Tarragona Amphitheatre

Tarragona Amphitheatre (Anfiteatro Romano de Tarragona) is a 2nd century AD sports arena in Spain which would once have played host to the bloody pastimes of the Ancient Romans, particularly gladiatorial battles.

Tarragona Amphitheatre history

It was probably built during the reign of Trajan or Hadrian. At the time, Tarragona Amphitheatre was part of the Roman city of Tarraco, the remains of which are a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The elliptical structure and seating plan of Tarragona Amphitheatre can still be seen. It would once have held up to 14,000 spectators.

Tarragona Amphitheatre was in use until the 4th century AD, after which it was abandoned. Later, a 6th century basilica and a 12th century gothic church were built on the site, the remains of which can be seen today.

The amphitheatre was built overlooking the sea and its stands were carved directly out of the underlying bedrock. The amphitheatre is 109.5 metres long by 86.5 metres wide and can hold up to 14,000 spectators. In its day, it was the scene of fights between gladiators and against animals, as well as public executions. In the early 6th century, a Visigoth basilica was built on the site, which was eventually replaced by the mediaeval Santa Maria del Miracle church.

After Christianity became the official religion of the Empire, the amphitheatre lost its original functions. In subsequent years some of the stones of the Roman theatre was used for the construction of the Basilica in memory of the three martyrs.

In 1780, the amphitheatre was used as a prison for prisoners who built the port of Tarragona. After the closing of the prison, the amphitheatre was abandoned until the mid-20th century, when work began on the restoration of the theatre.

Tarragona Amphitheatre today

The elliptical structure and seating plan of the Tarragona Amphitheatre can still be seen.

In summer, Tarragona’s Roman heritage comes alive through a series of historical reconstructions that show how the inhabitants of Tarraco once lived. Visitors can also relive the gladiatorial battles in the Amphitheatre, which, enhanced with the latest technology, guarantees a unique and exciting experience.

Getting to Tarragona Amphitheatre

Tarragona is located in the north-eastern corner of the Iberian Peninsula. The city has direct rail links to all major Spanish and European capitals. The amphitheatre is located under the hill near the lookout “Balcony of the Mediterranean.” This location gives a good view of the amphitheatre from a height.

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