Trier – Amphitheater

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting to find here, but I’m fairly sure that I didn’t expect anything as extensive as what remains. Despite that, most of the site has unfortunately disappeared, the stone was stolen by the church so that they could construct themselves some new buildings, whilst the banks of the seating area were later used to grow grapes on.

Back in Roman days, in around 200AD, the city of Trier was an important northern province. So where there were lots of people, there needed to be entertainment. Like today, where there’s lots of housing then there’s suddenly a demand for a Greggs. So this amphitheater was constructed, so that the locals could watch gladiators kill animals, as well as themselves, with other productions also taking place.

This is taken from the top of the former seating area down onto the modern day ticket desk. To the left, within the grassed area, is a Roman pavement, although this has been moved to the site from somewhere else nearby. On the right is what was once the city wall, which was incorporated into the structure of the amphitheatre. The passages either side of the main path are the vomitoriums, more on which in a moment…

And here’s the Roman pavement mentioned above, complete with grooves.

The audience would have come in from either end, not through the obvious main track into the centre, but through the passages either side of it. These were known as vomitoriums, meaning “to spew out” in Latin, but in the original sense rather than the modern day one.

The vomitoriums are either side of this main pathway.

And now underneath the centre of the auditorium, where wooden structures (some of which are still there) would lift animals and stage equipment up as required. It’s very wet down there, but there are paths which have been created to walk on.

And another photo of under the main arena. When this site was uncovered a lot of lead sheets were found here which had curses written on them. They were thrown here by people because this was known to be an area where people had met a sticky and grisly end, so it was thought that the lead texts would have more effect in such a miserable environment.

These rooms are back on ground level and there are the original cells, or cages, that the gladiators or animals would have been kept in.

I was the only person on the site, bar the man in the ticket office, and it was a little unnerving to wander into all of these dark and wet rooms. I was, of course, very brave.

Much of what is there today only survived because it got buried over time, got repurposed or was simply too difficult to carry away. Above is a photo from over a century ago, showing how the site had fallen into disrepair. Some of the original Roman wall plaster remains because part of the site was used as cellars for many centuries.

This is one of the areas of the amphitheater which didn’t get removed over the centuries, just because it was too well built. This is heavily repaired though, and I personally think it’s been over-repaired as it’s too hard to tell what is new and what is old. There are some photos around the site of what it used to look like and I suspect now they’d have used modern brick to differentiate old from new.

Overall, this was a marvellous site with plenty still in place, although perhaps they needed a little internal museum area to give some background to the whole location.