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Syracuse: Amphitheater


The Amphitheater of Siracusa (Italy). Photo Marco Prins. Syracuse: the ancient capital of Sicily
 
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The Amphitheater of Syracuse (satellite photo) is about 140 m long and 120 m wide, which is a bit smaller than the more famous Amphitheater of Verona. As was usual, the main entrances to the arena, where the gladiators played their murderous games, were situated along the long axis of the elliptical building. The main entrance was in the south, visible on the first photo.

The Amphitheater of Siracusa (Italy). Photo Marco Prins.
The monument, which has been dated to as early as the first century CE and as late as the fourth century, was in the east hollowed out of a hillside; in the west, on the other hand, the monument was built out of large blocks of limestone from the nearby quarries. Many of them were removed in the sixteenth century, when the Spanish needed stones to rebuild the fortifications of Syracuse (the same happened to the Theater and the Altar of Hiero).

The Amphitheater of Siracusa (Italy). Photo Marco Prins.


There were three sectors in which the people could be seated. The first rows of seats were for the people who had the Roman citizenship, the second sector was for the wealthy families, and the last group of rows was for the urban poor. In the center of the arena is a square hole that was almost certainly used for machinery that was used during the shows. For example, a lion might be brought into the arena with an elevator.
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© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2008
Revision: 30 January 2008
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