Mega-sized, even then

The first time we set eyes on the Roman Coliseum we were stunned at the sheer size of the place. The Colisuem held up to 80,000 spectators. What an amazing undertaking for a building project erected between 70-80 A.D.!

We’ve visited more than our share of ancient stadium and theatre ruins from the Greek and Roman Empires, and that got us thinking about these mega-sized building projects and how often they were used. We suspected that more than a few of these were built to demonstrate the power of the government and that such large public works projects could be accomplished.

Miletus, Turkey – built as a Greek Theatre in the 4th Century B.C., seating capacity 15,000

Miletus, Turkey – built as a Greek Theatre in the 4th Century B.C., seating capacity 15,000

We discovered that Milteus was the largest and wealthiest city in the Greek Empire at the time the theatre was built.

Aphrodisias Stadium – built in the 1st Century A.D , seating capacity 30,000. We found a reference that suggested the population was only 15,000 at the time, so the stadium must have been a huge undertaking for Aphrodisias.

Aphrodisias Stadium – built in the 1st Century A.D , seating capacity 30,000. We found a reference that suggested the population was only 15,000 at the time, so the stadium must have been a huge undertaking for Aphrodisias.

The theatre of Hierapolis, now located in Pamukkale, Turkey - built in the 2nd Century A.D., seating capacity 15,000.

The theatre of Hierapolis, now located in Pamukkale, Turkey – built in the 2nd Century A.D., seating capacity 15,000.

Several years after we visited the stadiums of ancient Greece and Rome, we came upon another mega-sized stadium.

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor – 1927, seating capacity 115,000. The stadium looks smaller than it really is since most of the seating is below ground level.

Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor – 1927, seating capacity 115,000. The stadium looks smaller than it really is since most of the seating is below ground level.

At the time the stadium was built the population of the town was about 25,000 compared to the stadium capacity (at that time) of 72,000. We wondered how often a stadium with a current seating capacity of 115,000 is used?

The stadiums in Portland and Washington, DC seemed modest in comparison.

Portland, Oregon – Providence Park – 1926, seating capacity 20,438  

Portland, Oregon – Providence Park – 1926, seating capacity 20,438

Washington, DC - National Park - 2008; seating capacity 41,418

Washington, DC – Nationals Park – 2008; seating capacity 41,418

When we stood in a high row at the Greek theatre in Miletus and looked down, it wasn’t that different from standing in a row high up in Washington’s Nationals Park. Stadiums don’t seem to have changed that much over 2,000 years. A little surprising don’t you think?

 

October 2015

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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5 Responses to Mega-sized, even then

  1. icelandpenny says:

    Of course — sports stadia as the new temples! I’ve always thought that architecture reflects the power of the day — think all those imposing, temple-like banks we used to have (compared to the deliberately friendly-looking ones of today). Libraries were once deliberately overwhelming structures as well. Financial institutions still build grand towers, but sports facilities are the new public temples, it seems.

  2. I wonder what version of the ‘hot dog’ went with those long-ago stadiums?? Thirty-thousand people…there had to be food.

  3. Cliff Mail says:

    One of the things we have learned in our travels is that while technology may have changed, Iwe suspect that we humans have changed very little. We may pride ourselves on being more sophisticated but human nature, politics and the driving force of greed appear little changed from the time those ancient monoliths were built. Those civilizations that built the ancient stadiums lasted a long time, I wonder if our one can go the distance?

  4. plaidcamper says:

    Very interesting – I think the beer is more watered down than back then…
    The scale of the ancient amphitheatres is simply astonishing! I don’t think a modern stadium would still be standing – even in ruins – a couple of millennia from now.

  5. Tom Wiener says:

    Thanks for including Nats Park in your collection!

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