The Roman Amphitheater of Catania is an amphitheater located at the base of the Montevergine Hill, in Piazza Stesicoro, in Catania.
The amphitheater was probably built in the 2nd century – the exact date is uncertain, but the architecture suggests the era between the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius. The monument was enlarged in the 3rd century, thus tripling its size.
Because the monument was abandoned for a long time, in the 5th century, Theodoric, King of the Ostrogoths, granted the inhabitants of the city the right to use the amphitheater as a quarry for building material.
In the 11th century, it seems that Roger II of Sicily also used materials from the amphitheater for the construction of the Cathedral of Sant’Agata, including the granite columns that decorate the facade of the church.
In the 13th century, the entrances of the monument were used by the Angevins to access the city during the so-called War of the Sicilian Vespers. In the following century, the entrances were walled up and the ruin was incorporated into the Aragonese network of fortifications.
In 1505, the city senate granted Giovanni Gioeni the concession to use the stones of the monument for the construction of houses and to use the arena as a garden. After the earthquake of 1693, the amphitheater was definitively buried.
Subsequently, periods of interest and abandonment followed.
Renovated in 1997, it was only opened during the summer season and then closed again due to the infiltration of sewage from the neighboring houses. Partially restored in July 1999, it was reopened to the public, only to be closed again due to deterioration of its condition.
Today, the visible part of the amphitheater located in Piazza Stesicoro represents almost a tenth of the entire structure. The remaining part of the amphitheater is still buried under the area defined by Via Neve, Via Manzoni and Via Penninello.
The elliptical arena, surrounded by radial walls and vaults supporting the seating of the cavea, had a maximum diameter of 70 meters and a minor diameter of 50 meters, with a circumference of 192 meters.
The external diameter of the amphitheater was 125 meters in length and 105 meters in width, with an external circumference of 309 meters.
The cavea was made of basalt from Mount Etna, faced with marble. The external arches are made with large rectangular bricks and good quality mortar, while the internal ones are made of concrete, with large radial plates.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Roman Amphitheater of Catania is located about 1.3 kilometers away from the Catania Centrale railway station. The closest bus stop is Stesicoro Sicilia, located a few meters away, on the bus Line 504M.