Visit Santa Maria Capua Vetere
With a history stretching back to the Etruscans and the Samnites, at which time it was one of the most important cities in Italy, Santa Maria Capua Vetere later also became an important centre for the Ancient Romans: the town today attracts visitors because of its impressive ancient Roman monuments.
Explore Santa Maria Capua Vetere: tourism and travel guide
The most important archaeological site in ancient Capua is the Roman Theatre, built by the Emperor Augustus. This is a very large construction that still retains the tunnels underneath the structure. The structure itself, which was once the second biggest amphitheatre in Italy, is in reasonable condition but much less so than, for example, the colosseum in Rome.
Parts of the amphitheatre complex date back to the 2nd century BC, while all the other significant Roman monuments in Santa Maria Capua Vetere date to the late-Roman period, such as the mithraeum*, dating from the 2nd-3rd century AD and with impressive frescoes from that period; and the well-preserved thermal baths. The main amphitheatre itself also dates from this period, having been completed in the 2nd century.
* A mithraeum is a small dark place of worship for members of the ancient Mithraist religion. These can be found in many places across Europe, but most commonly in Germany and Italy.
Other sites of historic interest to visitors to Santa Maria Capua Vetere include:
- the old Prisons;
- the funerary "Canocchia" (the oldest building in Campania);
- a Roman Sepulchre of the 2nd century;
- the triumphal arch called the Arch of Hadrian;
- the ancient port city on the “Via Appia”.
To the east of the old town a rural sanctuary has been discovered dating back to at least the 4th century BC. Excavations here have discovered a hundred statues of "Mater Matuta" carved in tuff that can now be seen in the Provincial Museum in Capua.
Note: it was at Santa Maria Capua Vetere that Spartacus led the revolt of the gladiators in 73 BC, a fact commemorated in a museum dedicated to the gladiators on the site of the ruins.
Nearby in the more recent town of Capua you can visit a museum that contains many of the Ancient Roman objects that have been excavated in and around Santa Maria Capua Vetere, such as some votive statues of women holding young children found on the site of the ancient shrine. See Capua for this and other sites of interest in the town.
Where is Santa Maria Capua Vetere?
Map of Santa Maria Capua Vetere and places to visit
Santa Maria Capua Vetere places to visit
See more places nearby in the Campania guide