Standing in all its grandeur, this Arena in Verona has been around in the city for well over 2000 years. I have been to the Colosseum in Rome and although it is larger, unlike Verona Arena, it does not hold immense history in its folds. That is fact no. 1.
When I was in Verona I could sense the pink stained marbles still vibrating with the more than 30,000 cries of jubilation as the gladiators slaughtered each other. This thing happens to me, a kind of a time warp where I, for few seconds, get lost in the very imagination of what a historic place would have been like in its full swing.
Here are some of the facts that I found about the Arena Verona.
This arena has hosted thousands of gladiator carnages in the past and, supposedly, that happened for almost 400 years until the emperor Honorius banned the practice in 404 AD.
Because of the catacombs that lie underneath the Arena, Veronese people called it the labyrinth of the devil. They used the place as a quarry for their buildings around it.
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Veronese people were responsible for destroying the Arena; however, luckily, Venetians started the first renovation project that restored a few walls of it. That era marked the reoccurrence of the public events such as sporadic concerts and performances.
Whether it is a real story or not, I’m not going into that detail. However, what’s true is that the Arena and the story share the years of fame. The story was written and published when the Arena was in its youth years. Who knows somemight have had their own story played in the arches of the Arena?
To save the city from plundering and debauchery, they had placed the Arena outside the city so that everyone could enjoy the shows; however, not everyone could re-enter the city.
Although, as I said above, the Arena did start hosting events in the 1800s, the first official performance after a century kicked off from August 10, 1913. The opening performance was of Aida by Giuseppe Verdi and it was performed to commemorate his 100th birthday. Even until today, the Verona Arena is a host to many international concerts every year. Performers like Leonard Cohen, Alicia Keys, Whitney Houston, etc. graced this ancient arena that could accommodate 15,000 people.
After reopening it, excavations were carried out to find the huge hydraulic systems that pumped water into the amphitheater. That water was used for water games and for cleaning purposes.
So, next time you visit Verona, don’t just think about the story of ill-fated lovers, “Romeo and Juliet.” Go inside this Arena in Verona and hear the loud cheers of the spectators and the piercing sounds of spears and killing tools of the gladiators. And don’t forget to find your way back to the present. 😉
Just in case you wanna stay here for a night, stay at II Salotto del Conte. It is inside the historical city center and walking distance to everywhere you wanna go and see. Juliet’s House is just 5 minutes walk from here and 30 minutes walk to the top of Piazza de San Pietro. It’s clean and in a quiet area.
Well, you know, solo travel is not for everyone. Should you decide to go on with a tour group, go with – Intrepid Travels. They have a wide variety of tours for all ages and different kinds of travelers, including solo, seniors, teenagers,