(1) An oval or circular building with an open area ringed by rising tiers of seats, used in ancient Rome for contests and spectacles. (2) A large modern theater or stadium.
The Romans held popular contests between gladiators or between gladiators and wild beasts in their amphitheaters.
The basic design of an amphitheater reflects the forms of entertainment for which it was originally built: gladiatorial contests and other spectacles. The most famous of the ancient aphitheaters was Rome's Flavian Amphitheater, now more commonly known as the Colosseum. Built between 70 and 82 A.D., this structure could hold nearly 50,000 people. The ruins of more than 75 amphitheaters have been found in the ancient lands that were once part of the Roman Empire.