There’s A Roman Amphitheatre In London, & Here’s What It’s Like

London – the English capital and seemingly the main attraction of the world for many of the most discerning travelers in the world. And why wouldn’t it be? With an abundance of centuries-old historical attractions, world-famous monuments, intense shopping, London’s energetic nightlife and charming British culture flowing through its urban streets, this is a big city of travelers’ dreams.

But before London became London With all its world-famous parks and legendary landmarks, this was Londonium – at a time when the Romans ruled the place two thousand years ago. There was no iconic Big Ben, no Oxford Street, no Buckingham Palace, and certainly no Camden Town with its anarchic punk scene. It was a nascent and humble city in its infancy – a city that, like many Roman settlements, had its own Colosseum. It was buried under one of London’s most famous attractions for nearly two whole millennia. However, today it is on display for visitors and history buffs to marvel at the ages, cultures and traditions that have gone by – even if they were barbaric.

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Was there a Roman Colosseum in London?

There is a bit of London in Rome. Alas, so it is said of London; Indeed, in London, England, there was a fully functioning Roman Colosseum that remains buried beneath the British capital’s iconic Guildhall courtyard—an outdoor space used for public and private events throughout the year. It also happens to be where two of London’s top attractions for history buffs and art lovers stand: the Guildhall Great Hall and the Guildhall Art Gallery. This Colosseum is still there now, and is open to visitors.

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Today, London’s Roman Amphitheater It is a famous official monument and equally an interactive, educational experience; It allows visitors to learn about, witness and almost experience the real ancient history of Roman London through the site’s displays and digital projections. Some of the visible remains of the amphitheater built during the reign of Roman London are displayed in a room in the basement of the Guildhall Art Gallery complex. But these ancient remains were not always shown – that’s a lesson years for experts to locate them.

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When was London’s Roman amphitheater discovered?

It took archaeologists more than a century to find London’s Roman amphitheater. They finally rediscovered the remains of London’s Roman Colosseum in 1988, hidden beneath Guildhall Yard. In fact, the archaeological dig was in preparation for the new construction project of the Guildhall Art Gallery.

However, what really surprised the experts was the location where the remains were discovered. London’s Roman amphitheater was the only one in the capital to be inside the old Roman city walls, making the discovery somewhat unusual as most ancient amphitheatres were located outside.

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The remains of the Roman amphitheater of London Guildhall

Short sections of Roman walls were excavated in the Guildhall courtyard, after which the important site was established as a protected monument. Of course, the remains of the amphitheater could not be better located; The City of London Corporation chose to incorporate the remains into its plans for a new art gallery. It was an opportunity not to be missed, combining an art gallery in central London with a thousand-year-old Roman Colosseum – so construction began in 1992, alongside excavation. Later in 2002, the amphitheater opened its doors to the public – for the first time in almost 2,000 years.

But what does the historical site look like? Currently, London’s Roman amphitheater consists of a section of the original stone entrance tunnel, the arena walls and the east gate. These important remains are protected in a highly controlled environment located 20 meters below the outer pavements – a protected space buried under accumulated layers of ancient rubble and rubbish, where the remains can slowly but surely dry out without damaging the millennia-old ironwork.

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Naturally, the original structure of the Colosseum is not at all what it was, as expected, given the number of years it has existed. However, visitors can see the original perimeter of its outer walls, which an 80m wide circle of dark paving stones marks the Guildhall courtyard, effectively delineating its old outline. Along with sections of the outer walls, visitors can also see the drainage system of the amphitheater, as well as the sand that was once used to absorb the blood of wounded gladiators. To aid visitors’ imaginations, a digital projection fills in the gaps in the ruins, much of which is missing due to thousands of years of wear and tear.

It is curious to see the markings, persistent features and artificial projections and to imagine how the entire amphitheater appeared as it did in Roman London – it is equally tickling to contemplate the story before its discovery. what Made To continue the heyday of this Colosseum – and before that? Centuries of history. It’s time to start from the beginning: the rise (and fall) of Roman London.

When was London founded?

Guildhall complex with Guildhall and Guildhall Art Gallery in the city of London in the United Kingdom
Roman Babakin via Shutterstock

Guildhall complex with Guildhall and Guildhall Art Gallery in the city of London in the United Kingdom

According to the Roman history of London, it was indeed the Romans who founded the city of London. Their rule extended from 43 AD to the fifth century AD – after which the empire fell. The Roman period in London first began as a modest settlement on two small hills on the north side of the River Thames. Currently, the famous St Paul’s Cathedral and Leadenhall Market occupy the original site where the Romans set up camp.

Londinium, as the Romans called it, became one of the largest cities in Roman Britain – and was even included among the prominent settlements of the Roman Empire outside the Mediterranean Sea. With easy access to the sea and an ideal location on the borders rather than in the middle of the existing tribal settlements, it did not take long for Londinium to accelerate to its position as the most significant and busiest city in the province. It became so bustling and prosperous, in fact, that in the second century AD, the Roman historian Tacitus described the city as “famous for the wealth of its merchants and commercial traffic” – a description of modern London that still rings true today.

Londonium continued to flourish over the years; By the third century, its population reached 50,000, which were a court So, perhaps in total, in part, the evidence of its large port that facilitated the arrival of people as well as the spread of international trade. The port of Londonium actually saw a huge trade industry from across the continents – a sector run by profitable merchants importing large quantities of luxury goods, including oil, wine and cloth. They will also export raw materials and unfortunately, enslave people.

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The History of London’s Roman Amphitheater

Enough said – Roman London was bustling, successful and grows up. What do the Romans do where they multiply? They are building a colosseum. When in Rome… also when in London, probably. After all, they brought their penchant for entertainment, bloody combat, and watching gladiators fight them to the death from their homeland. a culture called; They needed an arena in the Londonium settlement.

London’s Roman Coliseum has a turbulent history. Built in 70 AD, it started life as a basic wooden structure but underwent a major renovation at the beginning of the second century – an upgrade that saw its capacity increase to 6,000 people. After a makeover, the arena was used for all kinds of shows, from public events and wild animal fights, to public executions and, in true Roman style, gladiatorial combat. Even in Roman times, these violent shows were criticized, especially by the growing Christian community at the time. Still, they amassed huge audiences – but London’s Coliseum culture didn’t last forever; The end was near.

What happened to the Roman amphitheater in London?

The Romans abandoned Britain in the fourth century after the collapse of the empire. The amphitheater was thus dismantled, and a large part of it was transported as building materials. It lay abandoned, unused, and in rotting ruins for many centuries, exposed to the ravaging elements of time. However, by the eleventh century, London had become overcrowded, which led to the area being used again – but not as an amphitheater.

At the beginning of these inhabited periods in the British capital, the buildings that constantly appeared in the vicinity of the old amphitheater were simple wooden houses, some of which were also part of Viking trading settlements. However, as the years passed, these basic buildings were replaced by grander structures – until one day, the site gave way to an institution that is now one of the most famous places in London: the first ever Guildhall. As in the long-gone days of the Colosseum, the construction of the Guildhall made the area central London once again.

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Is London’s Roman Amphitheater worth a visit?

The entrance sign to the Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London
chrisdorney via Shutterstock

The entrance sign to the Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London

Combined as a historical attraction with the Guildhall Art Gallery, a visit to London’s Roman amphitheater “kills two birds with one stone”, as the British say. In short, that means it’s worth it – visitors can enjoy the art gallery’s sublime offerings at the same time as viewing this ancient Roman Colosseum that has slept beneath London for two millennia.

Opened in 2002, that year was the first time the amphitheater welcomed visitors again in 2,000 years. Today, the entrance to see the remaining buildings of the arena is through the Guildhall Art Gallery. This is one of the top attractions in London that most tourists don’t think to visit – and that’s a mistake on their part. It’s fascinating, entertaining and educational, opening people’s eyes not only to authentic Roman history and real-life existing buildings, but also to London before it became the world power and tourist magnet it is in the 21st century.

Where is the Roman amphitheater in London?

  • London Roman Amphitheater address: Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London EC2V 5AE United Kingdom

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London Roman Amphitheater opening times

London Roman Amphitheater opening hours are Monday to Sunday, 10:30am to 4:00pm (last entry is 3:45pm).

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How much does it cost to enter London’s Roman Amphitheater?

Entry to London’s Roman Amphitheater is free and included with general admission – pre-booking is recommended, which intending visitors can do online via the Guildhall Art Gallery’s general admission booking page. While general admission is free, a number of additional tours and experiences are available within the establishment for a small fee – see the Guildhall Art Gallery tickets page for more information.

Want to spend a day exploring Roman London? Why not go on a tour to see the fascinating historical attractions in London dating back thousands of years to the Roman Empire? Check out this private walking tour of London, starting at $201. Finally, travelers lucky enough to stay longer can check out any of the best London tours to fill out their itineraries after a visit to the Old Roman Colosseum in London.


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