Cruise To Europe's 6 Most Beautiful Amphitheatres
The ancient Greeks and Romans loved their sports and performing arts as much as we do. Evidence of this is all over Europe and beyond in the form of grand, elliptical amphitheatres and distinctive, semi-circular theatres.
Most of the former were constructed at the height of the Roman Empire and used for gladiatorial contests, exotic animal hunts and mock battles. Many of the theatres were built by the Greeks several centuries earlier and were the venue for plays, orations and music.
Those in good condition are still being used for performances today. Here are some that are accessible by cruise.
Then: At Pompeii in Italy you get the triple whammy of a complete oval amphitheatre, semi-circular theatre and smaller theatre. The former was in use for 160 years before being buried by ash from Vesuvius in AD79.
Now: Each arena is in excellent condition, though most of the seating of the amphitheatre is missing. The standard guided Pompeii tour includes the two theatres but not the amphitheatre.
Book: Holland America has a 12-night cruise from Rome to Venice, calling at Naples, on April 18, 2016.
Then: Completed in AD80, the Colosseum is easily the best-known Roman amphitheatre in the world and held 50,000 spectators. It was used for dramas, as well as gladiatorial battles. The four-storey structure is regarded as a remarkable feat of engineering.
Now: Its top layer may be missing but it’s still a majestic site if you can ignore the fake centurions outside. Visit independently unless you find a specialist excursion that allows enough time.
Book: Celebrity Cruises has a seven-night cruise from Venice to Barcelona, calling at Civitavecchia, departing June 24, 2016.
Then: The imposing Arena amphitheatre in Croatia is extremely well preserved. It’s also one of the largest, completed in 68AD to hold 23,000 spectators. It was on the gladiatorial circuit until the 5th Century.
Now: In recent times the Arena has welcomed the likes of Pavarotti and Tom Jones to perform. It’s within walking distance of the cruise dock.
Book: Silversea has a 10-night Venice to Civitavecchia cruise, visiting Pula, departing May 6, 2016.
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Then: Think of the Acropolis and you think of the Parthenon, but on the rock are two significant theatres, the Roman Odeon of Herodes Atticus (161AD) and the much older Theatre of Dionysus.
Now: If you have a day in the Greek capital, make sure you include the theatres as well as the more obvious Acropolis sites.
Book: Royal Caribbean has a seven-night round-trip from Greece, visiting Athens, on September 24, 2016.
Then: Excavated only recently, this splendid Roman theatre in southeast Spain is one of the Empire’s earliest. It was later used as a market and a cathedral was built on top in medieval times.
Now: The theatre – open six days a week – is in the city centre, very close to the port. A very good museum forms part of the complex.
Book: Cunard has a 13-night round-trip from Southampton, calling at Cartagena, on June 9, 2016.
Then: Close to the delta of the Rhone, Arles, in the south of France, was a key Roman trading port. At its centre is the most intact oval amphitheatre in the world, built in 90AD.
Its capacity was 20,000. Next door is a semi-circular theatre from the 1st Century BC.
Now: Major concerts are still held in the amphitheatre. Guided tours of Arles do not usually include entry, but free time will allow a visit.
Book: Princess Cruises has a 14-night round-trip from Southampton, calling at Marseilles, on May 14, 2016.
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This article was from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.