I have always been a bit fascinated with the Romans. I won’t bore you with the detailed distinctions between Ancient Rome, the Roman Republic, and the Roman Empire, but suffice to say that the centuries defined by the power of Rome was an incredibly exciting period of history that really shaped the world as we know it today.
What’s even more incredible is that for a period of history so remote from contemporary times, there are a surprising number of sites around the world where you can come face-to-face with glimpses of the Roman past – where you literally can walk in the footsteps of the Roman adventurers who set out to conquer the world.
The Romans were famous for building spectacular amphitheatres, each of them engineering feats in themselves, here's a quick guide as to where to find four of the best.
The Colosseum, Rome
When you visit Rome today, it is awe inspiring to see how the modern city seamless incorporates so many ancient wonders from its past – that this is a city where people are living, and going about their day-to-day business, without a second thought for the monuments and ruins that point to a past when this literally was the centre of the known world.
The massive amphitheatre that is known as the Colosseum is perhaps one of the most visual reminders of the rich history that washes through the city of Rome.
Built of concrete and stone, it is the largest amphitheatre in the world, dating from the year 70 AD. Holding up to eighty-thousand spectators, the Colosseum was used for gladiatorial contests, public entertainments, and executions.
Les Arenes, Arles
Arles is often referred to as the “Rome of France” and this small town in the Provence region of the south of France was clearly an important trading post during Roman times.
There are a lot of Roman ruins in the Arles region, including a palace, temples, and extensive baths.
The massive amphitheatre that the Romans built here is known as Les Arenes. It is a work of art.
One of the largest amphitheatres built by the Romans outside of Rome was built in Tunisia. It still stands today and continues to tower over the modern-day city of El Jem.
The nearby museum contains an extensive collection of Roman artefacts from the villas that were constructed in this region.
During the summer months there is an extensive program of classical music festivals, which is the perfect way to enjoy this ancient amphitheatre.
El-Jem has a wealth of Roman amphitheatres, with the ruins of three amphitheatres in this region showing that it was an important area of focus for the Roman Empire.
In Aspendos you can visit the 2,000 year old amphitheatre where the acoustics are still good enough today to host world-class opera performances.
This amphitheatre is also particularly noted for the many decorations and tributes to the god of wine Dionysus.