The Flavian Amphitheater in Pozzuoli is the third largest amphitheater in Italy. Built at around the same time as the Roman Colosseum, this majestic building is said to have a capacity of 40,000 people. In fact, it was very likely built by the same architects who conceived the Colosseum.
The construction of the amphitheater began under the reign of the Emperor Vespasian and probably ended under the reign of Titus, his son. Some sources say that it could hold up to 50,000 people.
The history of the Flavian Amphitheater tells of the prosecution of Pozzuoli's patron, Saint Proculus, and the patron of Saint Naples, Saint Januarius. The two martyrs were thrown to the beasts but they survived. After that, they were beheaded at Solfatara, a nearby city.
When the Solfatara volcano began to erupt near the theater, it started to partially bury it leading to its abandonment. During the Middle Ages, the marble on the surface was removed but the interior was not touched and left as it was. Excavations of the site first took place from 1839 to 1845, 1880 to 1882, and the last one was in 1947. Excavators found that the inside of the amphitheater was perfectly preserved.
Today, the amphitheater stands as an architectonical and historical must-visit for the city of Pozzuoli. The entrance to watch the site is around 4 Euros, which is a small price to set eyes and feet on this beautiful architectural masterpiece.
In Italy, only the Colosseum and the Capuan Amphitheater are larger than this one. The site opens every day, except on Thursday, from 9 am to an hour before sunset. The entrance fee is 4 Euros for adults, 2 Euros for students under 26 and free to children under 18.
Just like any coliseum, you can visit the lower levels where the animals were kept as well as the places where the gladiators were trained and prepared themselves for the battles of their lives.