Amphitheatre Square in Lucca

Piazza dell’Anfiteatro is a public square in the northeast quadrant of walled center of Lucca, region of Tuscany, Italy.
The ring of buildings surrounding the square, follows the elliptical shape of the former second century Roman Amphitheater of Lucca.
The square can be reached through four gateways located at the four vertices of the ellipse.
A cross is carved into the central tile of the square with the arms pointing to the four gateways of the square.

Lucca amphitheatre square Tuscany Lucca piazza anfiteatro
Lucca amphitheatre square Tuscany Lucca piazza anfiteatro

The Roman amphitheatre, which is now about three meters under the ground, was built outside the walls in the first or second century AD. With an elliptical shape, it had two overlapping rows of fifty arches with pillars that supported the auditorium, formed by twenty steps and capable of welcoming ten thousand spectators.
The building fell into ruin during the barbarian invasions, and became for centuries a sort of quarry for building materials: in fact, during the Middle Ages it was called “caves”.
In particular, it was stripped of the entire coating and all the columns.
Later in time, houses and other buildings began to be built on the ruins, and, using the remaining structures of the Amphitheatre, they retained its shape.
The actual beautiful square, singular and unique in its kind, was designed by the architect Nottolini (1830), who demolished some buildings that were in the centre and created around the square the street, which is called “dell’Anfiteatro”.

A little square, a little archaeological site, some houses and shops, this place contains so much history of the city, if not almost all … of the series if the stones could talk!
Erected in Roman times between the end of the 1st century and the beginning of the 2nd century AD, it was located outside the city walls and built respecting the canons of every Roman amphitheater: an elliptical shape and two rows of arches supported by pillars that run all around. The cavea formed by 20 tiers probably hosted between 10,000 and 15,000 spectators who incited gladiators in melee combat and even in clashes against ferocious animals.
During the Middle Ages it was not completely demolished, but subjected to spoliations and from here began a series of vicissitudes that saw it used as a meeting place for the Longobards, the so-called “parlascio”, then as prisons, salt storage and slowly, houses and structures were added to these, even in the center of the arena.

Areal view Piazza Anfiteatro Lucca roman amphitheatre medioeval square in Lucca plaza Tuscany
Areal view Piazza Anfiteatro Lucca roman amphitheatre medioeval square in Lucca plaza Tuscany

Piazza Anfiteatro is today one of the symbols of the city of Lucca.
Piazza Anfiteatro o (Piazza dell’Anfiteatro) was built on the remains of the ancient Roman amphitheater which in turn was built in the 1st or 2nd century AD outside the walls of the time, near the north gate.
For the Romans, while the theater was reserved for the upper classes and was built inside the walls (in Lucca the remains are located at the church of Sant’Agostino), the amphitheater, because of the shows that took place there – like the fights between gladiators, for example, to which even the lower social classes could assist – it was placed outside the walls, both to facilitate the movement of spectators coming from out of town, and for the fear of popular revolts: in the In case of disorders the ports of the city could be closed.
The amphitheater was composed of two superimposed orders of 55 arches that stood on pillars that supported the auditorium, that is the tiers where the spectators sat, in turn divided into sectors according to the different social classes. Its overall height exceeded 13 meters.
The inputs had to be at least two.
One of these was the triumphalis gate from which the gladiators entered the arena. In the current square, the only original door that remains is the eastern one.
With its uniqueness and its charm, it attracts myriads of visitors every year who willingly stop to admire it by drinking a glass of wine in the characteristic local, many of them without knowing that inside these cellars lie the remains of the magnificent amphitheater structure. Roman that despite everything has resisted the passage of the centuries.


Piazza Anfiteatro a Lucca: come nasce una delle piazze più belle della Toscana

Piazza Anfiteatro