Is Caesarea Amphitheater really an amphitheater?

Caesarea Amphitheater

What does Amfi mean? What is the difference between the Roman Theater and Amphitheater? And is there an amphitheater in Caesarea? These are the questions that we will be answering in this post. Let’s begin!


The word amphitheater has the prefix “Amfi,” which means “on both sides” in Ancient Greek. For example, frogs belong to the Amphibia class, since these vertebrates live on land but breed in water. Another example is the Amphibian Man, who lived both on the ground and in water.

How does this relate to Amphitheater? This brings us to our next question.

What is the difference between the Roman Theater and Amphitheater?

Since “Amfi,” which means “on both sides,” the amphitheater is a circular theater where people sit on both sides. And though Form follows function is a principle associated with 20th-century modernist architecture, it is also applied in this case. A semi-circular theater allowed better sound propagation (suited for plays in a theater), and amphitheater is better suited for viewing (for example, gladiator battles).

Today amphitheaters are often confused with theatres, but there are differences between the two structures that relate principally to the event’s stages therein.

As the action was the order of the day in an amphitheater, seeing that action was more important than hearing it. The reverse is true for theatres. Consequently, theatres tend to be smaller and have much better acoustics. Perhaps the most fundamental difference between a Roman amphitheater and a Roman theatre is the shape, theatres have a semi-circular arrangement of raised seating looking into a stage, whereas an amphitheater is a ‘theatre in the round’ – Amphi is Greek for around.


Roman Theaters In Israel

As you understood by now, there is no Amphitheater in Caesarea. The building in Caesarea has a semi-circular shape and has great acoustics. Thus it is a Roman theater.

The Roman Theater in Caesarea
The Roman Theater in Caesarea

You can find additional information about this theater at Caesarea National Park.

The Roman Theater in  Caesarea National Park
The Roman Theater in Caesarea National Park

There are several other famous Roman theaters—for example, the Roman theater at Beit Shean National Park.

The Roman Theater in Beit Shean National Park
The Roman Theater in Beit Shean National Park

And there is a Roman theater in Tzipori National Park.

The Roman Theater in Tzipori National Park
The Roman Theater in Tzipori National Park

Amphitheaters In Israel

So far, we saw only theaters. But is there an Amphitheater in Israel? Yes, there is one. And you can find it in Beit Guvrin National Park.

And since we are talking about Amphitheaters, I want to mention the biggest amphitheater in the world, the Colosseum in Rome.

Colosseum in Rome
Colosseum in Rome

The Colosseum or Coliseum, also known as the Flavian Amphitheatre, is an oval amphitheater in the center of the city of Rome, Italy. Built of travertine limestone, tuff (volcanic rock), and brick-faced concrete, it was the largest amphitheater ever built at the time and held 50,000 to 80,000 spectators.

Source: Wikipedia

Inside the Colosseum in Rome
Inside the Colosseum in Rome

Note that the Colosseum is oval and the audience sat from all sides.


Many people confuse between amphitheaters and theaters. And the next time somebody tells you about an Amphitheater in Caesarea, then you can refer them to this post 😉

Hope this post made things clearer, and if you have any questions leave a comment below.

That’s all for today, and I’ll see you in future travels!

Stay Tuned!


Additional Resources

Here are several resources that I created to help travelers: And if you have any questions then check out Useful Information For Tourists To Israel.  
Did not find what you were looking for? Leave a comment below, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

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7 thoughts on “Is Caesarea Amphitheater really an amphitheater?

  1. Great info! Again, I’ve been calling it an amphitheatre my whole life. LOL I did have the pleasure of seeing Japanese theatre there man years ago… I shared this on the “Jews for Israel” page on Facebook that I admin, too:

  2. I wish there was a “Twitter” & “Facebook” button on your posts so I could share them easily on Twitter and Facebook…

    1. I used to have them, but they made the site slower. Moreover, there were other technical issues, so I removed them. Maybe I’ll add the share buttons in the future.

  3. How is it possible that in all Israel there is only one amphitheater, with all the time that the Romans were there, I have been surprised

  4. There actually is an amphitheater in Caesarea but it is not excavated. The circle can be seen in aerial photographs. It is near the aqueduct beach. There is an excavated amphitheater in Beit Shean, which is improperly called a hippodrome on the Ministry of Tourism sign. And a wonderfully preserved amphitheater in Beit Guvrin which often has events.

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