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Regio II



The amphitheater of Pompeii is the oldest of those we know from the Roman world. It was built after the foundation of the settlement (80 B.C.) by order of the mayors Gaius Quintius Valgus and Marcus Porcius, those who also ordered the construction of the Odéion. After the earthquake it was restored by order of the mayors Gaius and Cuspius Pansa, father and son. The building was erected in a peripheral area to avoid traffic jams in the city on the occasion of shows. The monumental stairs on the outside lead to the cavea with the spectators' seats. It could hold up to 20,000 spectators. The main part of the steps and of the upper balcony reserved for women is still intact. The level of the arena is lower than the outside area. This means that the theater was  partly built upwards and partly set into the ground like the Coliseum.


Fights between gladiators used to take place inside the arena. The games were opened by a solemn parade. The wrestlers wore heavy and completely decorated parade armours, helmets, dagger, shields and jambs. In 59 A.D. the spectators' enthusiasm led to a bloody brawl between the supporters of Pompeii and those of Nuceria. The event was “photographed” in a famous Pompeian painting. After the riots, Rome's Senate inflicted a ten-years “disqualification”  on Pompeii's arena, but the measure was withdrawn in 62 A.D. because the earthquake had severely hit all citizens. Most of the  gladiatorial arms, exhibited at the National Archeological Museum of Naples, were found in the theaters' foyer, used as the Gladiators' Barracks during the last years of the city.


House of Loreius Tiburtinus | House of Venus in the Shell

House of Julia Felix | Amphitheater

Palæstra (Gymnasium) | Necropolis of the Nuceria Gate


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