Trier Roman Amphitheatre - History and Facts | History Hit

Trier Roman Amphitheatre

Trier, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Trier Roman Amphitheatre is a well preserved UNESCO site in use as early as the first century.

Peta Stamper

30 Apr 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Trier Roman Amphitheatre

Trier Roman Amphitheatre may have been constructed as early as the first century AD, but was certainly in use by the 2nd century. Beautifully preserved, the Roman Amphitheatre of Trier now hosts open-air events and even the city’s antiquity festival. It is part of Trier’s UNESCO World Heritage sites list.

Trier Roman Amphitheatre history

Ancient Trier resembled many Roman cities of the 2nd century and it was during this prosperous period, under Emperor Pius, that the amphitheatre was built. The structure was dug into the side of a hill and what was the city wall. The theatre was later renovated around 293 AD when Constantius Chlorus – one in Dicoletian‘s tetrarchy of emperors – moved into his city residence on the banks of the Moselle.

Able to hold around 20,000 spectators, Trier Roman Amphitheatre would have been the site of fierce gladiatorial battles that also involved animals. Testifying to this use are tunnels underneath the arena which would have been used to house these animals together with unfortunate prisoners of the Roman Empire.

The amphitheatre also had a second, less obvious use: as defence. As part of the city walls and containing an entrance to Trier, the animals within the underground tunnels and hot oil could be unleashed on attackers. The amphitheatre may also have been the place where Constantius’ son and successor, Constantine the Great, later had the Frankish leader Ascaric executed.

Trier Roman Amphitheatre today

Today, the Trier Roman Amphitheatre is a popular tourist destination as part of exploring ancient Trier. Although much of the stone was used as quarry for building in the middle ages, much of the amphitheatre is preserved, surrounded by grassy banks.

For only a few euros, visitors can descend the stairs into the amphitheatre’s arena that measures 71 by 47 metres, imagining what it would be like as a slave or prisoner looking up at the packed stands and awaiting the release of an animal or competitor.

Additionally, because of its cone-shaped construction, sound reverberates easily throughout the amphitheatre making it a great place to hold musical concerts.

Getting to Trier Roman Amphitheatre

The closest bus stop is Amphitheater on routes 6, 7, 81 and 84, just across the road. For those driving, Trier Roman Amphitheatre is just off main roads 49 and 51 and is an hour drive from Luxembourg or 2 and a half hours from Frankfurt in Germany. There is parking available at the amphitheatre.

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