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History of Tarragona Museum Roman Amphitheatre

Discover the Tarragona 2nd Century Roman amphitheatre. opening hours, ticket options, top tips for visiting the Museum of History Tarragona (MHT)

Updated: Nov 3, 2023 by: Barcelona Travel Hacks Views: 1.7k

About History of Tarragona Museum Roman Amphitheatre

Dating from the 2nd century A.D. on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, the oval shaped amphitheatre, Anfiteatro Romano de Tarragona, was used as a venue for numerous popular events, including gladiatorial games. The pits in the main arena were used lo load animals and gladiators into the arena. In the central part of the amphitheatre, the remains of the plan of a Visigoth basilica are preserved (6th century) as well as those of a Romanesque-Gothic church from the 12th century.

On January 21, 259, the Christian bishop Fructuos and his two deacons, Augurius and Eulogius, were burned alive in the arena of the Amphitheatre. This fact motivated in the sixth century the construction of a cult basilica dedicated to these martyrs. During the 12th century, the Romanesque church of Santa Maria del Miracle was built on the primitive early Christian basilica.

The building was located outside the Roman city centre close to the beach so that the animals that were to take part in the shows could be unloaded. Two types of activities were organised in the Amphitheatre: gladiator fights and beast fights or hunts. In addition, the Amphitheatre was also the place where those sentenced to death were executed.

The arena, or space where the show took place, has dimensions of 62.5 metres by 38.5 metres with total dimensions of 130 by 102 metres and space for 15,000 spectators.

In a small chapel-like room, a mural depicting Nemesis, the protective goddess of gladiators, was discovered. Also, the sand is separated from the bleachers by a podium 3.25 meters high. The bleachers or cavea were divided into three sectors or maenianae. These bleachers were built by cutting the rock on the north side and supporting them on vaults in the rest of the building. The grandstand, the main exit doors to the arena and a very small part of the façade have also been located.

Today the ruins of the amphitheatre form part of the Museo de Historia de Tarragona (MHT) collection. Tarragona has some of the most substantial Roman Ruins in Catalunya. The amphitheatre is located in a modern park space, Parc de l'Amfiteatre, with a cafe and viewpoints looking over the amphitheatre towards the sea.

Another great place to get a view of the Tarragona Roman Amphitheatre is the Mediterranean Balcony, Balcó del Mediterrani.

Tarragona Roman Amphitheatre was awarded UNESCO world Heritage status in 2000. specifically, Tarragona city was awarded the status for its Roman archaeological legacy which includes multiple monuments.