The Amphitheatre of Catania is an ancient structure in Catania, Sicily, southern Italy, built in the Roman Imperial period, probably in the 2nd century AD, on the northern edge of the ancient city at the base of the Montevergine hill. Only a small section of the structure is now visible, below ground level, to the north of Piazza Stesicoro. This area is now the historic centre of the city, but was then on the outskirts of the ancient town and also occupied by the necropoleis of Catania. The structure is part of the Parco archeologico greco-romano di Catania.
The amphitheatre of Catania is the most complicated and largest of all the amphitheatres in Sicily. It is one of a group of large arenas, which also includes the Colosseum, the Amphitheatre of Capua, and the Verona Arena. The structure centred on an elliptical arena, surrounded by radial walls and vaults supporting the seating of the cavea, which had 14 steps and 32 aisles. A gallery ran around the outside of the structure, on which the external facade is mounted. The arena had a maximum diameter of 70 metres and a minor diameter of around 50 metres, with a circumference of 192 metres. The external diameter was 125 x 105 metres, while the external circumference was 309 metres. Opus vittatum was used for the construction of the interior and opus quadratum for the exterior. The remains of the pilasters are in opus quadratum with small blocks of igneous rock. The cavea was made of basalt from Mount Etna, faced with marble. The external walls indicate a degree of carelessness in construction. The blocks are cut irregularly and seem to mostly have been recycled. The external arches are made with large rectangular bricks of regular shape and good quality mortar, while the internal ones are made of concrete, with large radial plates. Despite the overall sobriety of the building, the contrast between the colour of the very dark igneous rock of the walls and the red bricks of the arches must have been very striking. A note of class was added by the employment of marble, not only for the cladding of the podium, but also for some decorations, such as the herms on the sides of the main entrance. The main stairs were probably made of limestone, creating a strong interplay with the white of the seating and the black of the other stairways. A cover with large awnings to protect people from strong sun and rain probably existed.
From the theatre’s dimensions it can be calculated to have held 15,000 spectators and almost double that number with the addition of wooden bleachers for standing spectators. According to an uncertain and unconfirmed tradition, it was intended that naumachiae (staged sea battles) take place in the amphitheatre, using the ancient aqueduct to fill the arena with water.