Amphitheatre of Mérida

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UNESCO World Heritage Site
Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida
Name as inscribed on the World Heritage List
Amphitheatre of Mérida.
Location Spain
Type Cultural
Criteria iii, iv
Reference 664
UNESCO region Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1993 (17th Session)

The Amphitheatre of Mérida (Spanish: Anfiteatro de Mérida) is a ruined Roman amphitheatre situated in the Roman colony of Emerita Augusta, present-day Mérida, in Spain. The city itself, Emerita Augusta, was founded in 25 BC by Augustus, to resettle emeritus soldiers discharged from the Roman army from two veteran legions of the Cantabrian Wars (the Legio V Alaudae and Legio X Gemina). The amphitheatre itself was completed in 8 BC. The term emeritus refers to the soldiers, all of whom had been honorably discharged from service. The city became the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania.

The amphitheater is part of the Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida, which is one of the largest and most extensive archaeological sites in Spain. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.


The amphitheater was inaugurated in the year 8 BC. This building was intended for gladiatorial fights and combats between beasts or men and beasts (venationes).

Architectural features[edit]

Stands of the Roman amphitheater of Mérida.

The amphitheater had an elliptical shape, and had a major axis of 126 metres (413 ft) and one less than 102 metres (335 ft) with these measures in the arena of 64 metres (210 ft) by 41 metres (135 ft) respectively.

The sand-covered arena in the centre had a fossa bestiaria in the center, which was covered with wood and sand. This fossa was used to house animals before they were released into the arena.

Its design consists of: a grandstand with ima, media and summa cavea, and a central arena. The stands had a capacity of approximately 15,000 spectators and had supporting stairs and hallways (Scalae) that connected the different parts internally.

The ima cavea had of a row reserved for the local élite and 10 more for members of the public. There were also two stands located at both sides of the minor axis: one above the main entrance hall and another in front. Under them were the monumental inscription from which the amphitheater can be dated.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 38°54′58.3″N 6°20′15.8″W / 38.916194°N 6.337722°W / 38.916194; -6.337722