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The theater dates back to 16/15 B.C. Seating in the Roman Theater was determined by one's status in society. The "orchestra pit" was reserved for only those of the highest class, senators and high officials. The top rows (very deteriorated and in the photo below, appear to look like a back wall) were for the slaves and the very poor.
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Roman Theater and Anfiteatro

Shopping and Eating in Merida

The Arte Romano Museum

The Roman bridge

The Aqueduct

Excavations at the Church of Santa Eulalia

The Alcazaba


For a large panoramic view of the top half of this photo click here

A rendering of the theater and the amphitheater from the interior door of the Museum.

The amphitheater and theater are situated right next to each other and can be accessed from the museum through an under-the-road tunnel. I guess in Roman times it would have been thought to be one big entertainment complex.

Photo to the right-Western entrance to the Amphitheater

The Amphitheater (Arena):


Take these stairs to get up to the amphitheater's cheap seats.
Gladiators:
Gladiators entered the arena through one of two large corridors.

Photo shows large arched corridor, the entrance for the gladiators. On each side of this corridor are small rooms, most likely a holding area for animals.

While there were paid gladiators (ex-soldiers), most participants in the arena were either condemned prisoners or servants.


A view of the second gladiators' entrance and the "fossa arenaria."
The "fossa arenaia" is the large cross shape depression in the center of the arena. In Roman times, this area would have been covered with wooden planking and stored the caged animals and equipment for staged presentations. Under a renovation, this area received a waterproof lining and then apparently was flooded with water for some events.

While death was the central theme of the amphitheater, make no mistake about it, it was also about theater (and making money). Wild animals from Asia and Africa were imported to make spectacular entertainment. Gladiators who fought animals were given the special name of "Venator."

By the late 400's A.D. the amphitheater was no longer in use, and its wall became the source for the raw material to construct other buildings.

A little information on Shopping and Eating in Merida.

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