On Stage: Mérida’s Theater

Mérida's Theater

Mérida’s theater and amphitheater were nothing short of amazing. Carefully preserved and wonderfully presented, this gem far exceeded my expectations. Why don’t more people visit Mérida?

 Wandering around the perimeter of Mérida’s amphitheater, we wondered how long it would take us to find the ticket office–this place was much bigger than we had imagined. A few buses and guided tour groups told us we were headed in the right direction. Finally, we saw it–the entrance to our last spot of the day!

Mérida's Theater

A statue inside the theater gardens

 This site is actually composed of two different areas: the amphitheater and the theater. Walking around immediately brings to mind the grandeur of Rome’s famous Colosseum. However, Mérida’s smaller version had no lines and shockingly few tourists. These sites, along with a handful of others, give the city UNESCO World Heritage site cred.

Mérida's Theater

Descending into the amphitheater

Another advantage to Mérida’s theater? There is a lot of information along the way, allowing you to appreciate the history in detail.  (This is one of my complaints with Rome’s Colosseum–you must provide your own information, and even then it’s easy to lose track of which spot you are standing in.) Some of the translations were smile-worthy–one sign describing how the stone seats were made with  “lime” surely meant to read “limestone.”

The visit begins in the amphitheater, where battles took place with animals and gladiators. These warriors often fought among themselves, and to bring this aspect to life, the museum had set up signs and images depicting 14 different gladiators. It was fascinating to see how the gladiators varied in costume, weapon, and motive.

Mérida's Theater

Amphitheater views

Next, you wind your way through a maze of seats and descend one of the tunnels. Ready to fight? You’re now inside the amphitheater, where the combat took place.

Mérida's Theater

Continuing the visit, you’ll walk through some gardens and see a few statues

Mérida's theater

This arch leads you to….

Mérida's Theater

The Roman theater!

Note how few tourists there were in all of these shots. This is not to say that there weren’t tourists–there were. (Indeed, a particularly funny tour group arrived in style in a bus that read “GLAM TOUR.”)  As we were relaxing on the steps of the theater, we noticed a small boy who was fiddling with a play bow and arrow. His family was deep in conversation, and he was free to toss around a few arrows here and there. As our group started to ascend the theater steps, the boy let loose his arrow and shot one of our crew squarely on the back. We joked that was a Cupid in our midst–not bad for a trip with mythical Latin flare!

Mérida's Theater

I would love to go back to Mérida some day for a night tour or to see a play in the amphitheater. If there is ever a place let your imagination slip back to ancient times, this is it.

Mérida's Theater

Read more:

– Check out this cool Google Map of the Roman amphitheater

 – Lauren has also visited Mérida and shares her praise for the city in this post

 Have you ever been to Mérida’s theater? Do you like your travels with a hefty dose of history?

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17 Comments

  1. This place does look very interesting!

  2. Cassandra

    It was great! You would have enjoyed it, Mot!

  3. This place is first on my list to see after school gets out in June! Thanks so much for a great post with lots of pictures.

  4. Cassandra

    Thanks, Trevor! The newer, surrounding town is average,but the Roman sites are a real treat. Hope you enjoy it!

  5. I’ve never thought of visitng Extremadura but maybe after seeing your’s and Lauren’s, I may just add it to the list

  6. Cassandra

    Hazlo!!! 🙂

  7. I love the whole ‘permanent set’ feel of the amphitheatre. I’d love to have seen it in its hay day with people milling around the scene whispering into ears behind the pillars & watching on as the leads tussle & toil at the front as harsh words are traded back & forth.

    Can’t agree with you more about going to the night performance, it must be magic.

  8. I’ve been there, stunning architecture I could look at for hours and would not get bored of 🙂

  9. Cassandra

    Yes, it is pretty amazing that this theather is still being used!

  10. Very cool! I bet it’s amazing to go see it used as a theater today. It looks enormous. I went to a similar amphitheater in Italica, just outside of Sevilla, and I was blown away.

  11. Cassandra

    I just googled the Italica amphitheater–it does look similar! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. Now I want to visit Italica!

  12. Mérida looks gorgeous. I’ve never been there but have a friend who taught there for a year. I’ll be teaching in Spain next year and will be looking forward to visiting when I he a chance! Great photos!

  13. Cassandra

    Thanks for your generous comment, Mike.

    That’s exciting news about coming to Spain, congrats! There are so many gems like Mérida to be discovered; indeed, one of the most amazing things about this country is its diversity!

  14. Ok, I’m sold! Extremadura is now high on my ‘must visit’ list. The amphitheatre reminds me of some of the ones I saw in Greece, including one in Epidavros that had such good acoustics that even in the furthest seats you could hear someone ripping paper on stage.

    • Cassandra

      Wow, that sounds amazing! I’ve never been to Greece but would love to go.

  15. Nice post and great pics – I live 17km from Mérida (Alange) and love when people come to visit us as it gives me an excuse to visit the theatre – I love the place! 🙂

  16. Cassandra

    Thanks, Sue! The theater is a certainly a special place 🙂

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