Besides the archeological area of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, the Aurelian Walls arrive to and include the ruins of the Amphitheater Castrense, one of the most important and impressive Roman monuments.
Most likely, its construction was ordered by Emperor Elagabalus (218-222) as a court amphitheatre annexed to the sessorian imperial residence (the word castrum refers to the imperial residences, as mentioned in the regional catalogs of the V Regio).
Originally elliptical, the amphitheater measures 88 meters on the major axis and 75.80 on the minor axis. A covered corridor connected it with the Circus Varianus: its remains, together with those of the circus, can still be seen in the back of the Basilica.
Inside, where now are the gardens of the convent of Santa Croce, there were the steps of the cavea. The underground environments, present under the arena, were revealed by excavations in past eras. In building the Aurelian Walls, the amphitheater was included in the path of the walls and the upper floor was fortified.
Today, the original aspect of the monument, completely in bricks and on three orders of arcades, can be reconstructed only through antique views made before the pontificate of Paul IV (century XVI), when, for defensive need, the amphitheatre was reduced to the first order. For the lowering of the surrounding level, moreover, the foundation of conglobated concrete is, at present, uncovered.
For visiting hours and procedures, please consult the official website.
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