Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (Amphitheater Square), Lucca

Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (Amphitheater Square), Lucca (must see)

The elliptical square used to be a Roman amphitheater. Built in the 1st century AD in the reign of the Emperor Claudius, it was originally outside the city walls. It was rather large, having fifty-four arches and a seating capacity of ten thousand. Public meetings as well as games and dramas were held in the arena.

In the 6th century AD, during the Gothic wars, the amphitheater became a defensive liability because of its size and position outside the city walls. The amphitheater was fortified by closing the outer arches. In time, other buildings used as houses, storage spaces or prisons were added to the structures around the arena.

During the middle ages the upper parts of the original amphitheater began to disappear. The materials taken were used in the constructions. The arena remained along with a ruined arch or two. Buildings enclosed the space, creating a de facto square. Most of these buildings were military storehouses or used to stock salt or such.

In the early 19th century, architect Lornzo Nottolini, was deeply involved in what was called the Great Project of Tuscany, including the urban renewal of Lucca. Nottolini was commissioned to restore and revive the Piazza based on the Roman ruins of the amphitheater.

Nottolini designed a new open square just as big as the original structure. It followed the elliptical shape of the arena exactly. It became an urban market center and space for open shops. In the early 20th century the official market was shifted to another area but the square continued to be called Market Square (Piazza del Maercato).

The square can be entered only through one of its four doorways. The lowest one of these is part of the original structure of the amphitheater. To enter the market square is to follow in the steps of the Lucchese from ancient times until now.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Lucca. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (Amphitheater Square) on Map

Sight Name: Piazza dell'Anfiteatro (Amphitheater Square)
Sight Location: Lucca, Italy (See walking tours in Lucca)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Lucca, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Lucca

Create Your Own Walk in Lucca

Creating your own self-guided walk in Lucca is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Lucca Introduction Walking Tour

Lucca Introduction Walking Tour

Lucca is called many things: A city of Arts, a city of Churches, gardens, towers. Most of all it is known for its walls. From Roman times until now the walls have stood. It is the only city in Italy that has kept its walls intact.

The inner walled city is laid out in the ancient Roman grid plan. The Piazza San Michele is the site of the old forum. Bits of the Roman amphitheater can be found in...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.2 Km or 2 Miles
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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
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Back in the Middle Ages, the...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.7 Km or 2.3 Miles