What events were held in Pompeii’s Amphitheatre?

Before it’s tragic demise Pompeii was a thriving city full of bustling streets and spectacular buildings. One of the most iconic landmarks is Pompeii’s Amphitheatre, listed as the oldest remaining amphitheatre in the entire world. It’s impressive and grandiose construction is still visible today, despite its deterioration over hundreds of years.

The Amphitheatre’s Birth

It was built in 80 B.C. and was the first known amphitheatre to be made of stone, instead of wood. It was constructed by two of Lucius Cornelius Sulla’s commanders, named Marcius Porcius and Quinctius Valgus, and was built at his own private expense. The amphitheatre became the most iconic structure to the Pompeii people, which can be confirmed by it being the first building to be restored after the city’s destructive earthquake in 69 AD.

The Amphitheatre’s Capability

Pompeii’s amphitheatre was once capable of holding up to 12,000 spectators, with some historians even hypothesising 20,000. Capable of sitting not just the Pompeii citizens, but nearby towns. Many believe it was used as a model for many amphitheatres built in Rome afterwards. But it differs to other Roman amphitheatres by not having an underground section.

The Amphitheatre’s Purpose

The amphitheatre was an attraction that all classes could enjoy, letting ordinary and high-class people watch spectacular performances together as one. Hosting circus shows, animals hunts, and numerous types of battles. Here are some of the most common performances in amphitheatre’s events.

Chariot Racing

One of the top sports of the time, Chariot Racing involved multiple horses drawing a small carriage fit for one standing driver. Racing much like modern day car racing, chariot differs in high levels of violence and cruelty. The fierce race was notorious for death and injuries, with common crashes leaving both horses and humans hurt.

Gladiator fights

The iconic Gladiators of Rome was one of the most popular events in Pompeii. Each battle ensured a different stage of fights. With lightly armed fighters, the heavily armed and the gladiator style fights. It was a brutal display of violence with the crowd screaming for blood. It was common for dead or injured fighters to be dragged to the side after they were defeated to make room for the next fight.

Animal Hunts

Roman people were renowned in purchasing exotic, wild animals to use in their animals’ hunts. The display of the animals altered, sometimes being dangerous leopards or tigers, or sometimes being fragile peacocks or zebras. First, they were presented to the crowd, listing their characteristics and danger. Followed by the hunting of the less dangerous animals within the arena. Afterwards, man on animals’ fights commenced, with gladiators fighting with large beasts.

Check out our Pompeii Tour from Rome for your next holiday!