Photo of Santa Maria Capua Vetere

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.

arched gallery around amphitheatre

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.

view of Santa Maria Capua Vetere roman theatre

Modern Capua

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?

The Ancient Roman settlement of Santa Maria Capua Vetere is a few kilometres west of Caserta and north of Naples, near the town of Capua in south-western Italy.

You can find more local travel ideas in and the Campania guide.

See also Find Santa Maria Capua Vetere hotels

Map of Santa Maria Capua Vetere and places to visit


Santa Maria Capua Vetere places to visit



In Capua you can visit the Museum of the Palazzo Antignano with its many ancient artefacts as well as the local cathedral

Capua guide


At Caserta it is the vast Royal Palace and its extensive parks and gardens that attracts the crowds

Caserta guide


A large and busy city, Naples also has many important historic monuments

Naples guide


Cuma is the ancient town that was the original source of Naples

Cuma guide


Herculaneum near Naples was a town buried by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 AD

Herculaneum guide
Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius

Mount Vesuvius is the volcano responsible for the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD.

Mount Vesuvius guide

...or see all our recommended places to visit in Campania