Roman Amphitheater of Lecce

Amphitheatre in Lecce

Amphitheatre Lecce
CC BY-SA 1.0 / Bernard Gagnon

Italy boasts numerous Roman ruins, but it’s rare to find an ancient and well-preserved amphitheater right in the center of town. The Roman amphitheater of Lecce is situated in the main piazza of the old town. Remarkably, it was completely hidden from view and its existence was unknown until 1901. The marvelous theater spent centuries buried under earth and various structures built over the years until construction workers uncovered it while digging to build a bank.

This below-ground amphitheater was constructed during the reign of Emperor Hadrian in the 2nd century CE when Lecce was a small village that served as a resort or trading port along the Mediterranean. Although still partially buried, the horseshoe-shaped arena is clearly visible and could originally accommodate at least 15,000 spectators. Ancient images on the walls depict the types of shows that were once performed, such as gladiators battling bulls, lions, bears, or other humans.

The amphitheater is surrounded by other classical ruins, a Baroque triumphal arch, and modern buildings, reflecting the entire history of the city in one view. At night, the amphitheater is one of the few monuments not illuminated, providing an even more ancient ambiance. While much of the amphitheater can be seen from the road, the interior is not always open to the public. However, it remains an active venue for events and performances, continuing to serve the community as it did in ancient times.

The Roman Amphitheater of Lecce appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Lecce!

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Visiting Roman Amphitheater of Lecce

Address: Roman Amphitheater, Piazza Sant'Oronzo, Lecce, Province of Lecce, Italy
Duration: 20 minutes

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