Vespasian Sites

Trip Historic can help you follow in the footsteps of Roman Emperor Vespasian and visit historic sites which relate to the life of this iconic ancient leader.

To find out more about these Vespasian sites, you can explore our interactive map or navigate further by using the links below.

Our database of Vespasian historic sites is growing all the time, but we may not cover them all. Remember, if you know of other historical places that relate to the life of Vespasian, you can always add them to Trip Historic now by visiting our upload page.

Vespasian: Site Index

Photo by Historvius

Caesarea

Caesarea in Israel was an Ancient Roman city and served as Vespasian’s headquarters during the Jewish rebellion. Vespasian was at Caesarea when he was declared emperor by the eastern legions..

DID YOU KNOW?

Caesarea or “Keysarya” was an Ancient Roman city which is now a large archaeological site in Israel. It is believed that the city of Caesarea was initially founded atop the ruins of Straton's Tower, a third century BC Phoenician port city.

Conquered by King Alexander Jannaeus of the Hasmonean Kingdom in 90 BC, Caesarea’s population remained under local control until it was taken by the Romans in 63 BC. It was King Herod the Great who named the city Caesarea – after Augustus Caesar - and who endowed it with the majority of its great public buildings, infrastructure and monuments from 22 BC. Caesarea became a thriving commercial hub which hosted sporting events and which flourished further under the Byzantines. It was conquered by Crusaders in the eleventh century and its Crusader defences were erected in 1251 under French King Louis IX.

Today, Caesarea offers so much to see, including a large amphitheatre overlooking the ocean and an extensive labyrinth of ruins. Some of the most imposing remains at Caesarea are its Crusader fortifications.

Nearby, visitors can also explore the stunning remains of the Caesarea Aqueduct. Unless willing to hike for quite a while, it’s best to drive to this site. Overall, a trip to Caesarea can last anywhere from one to three hours and makes for a truly excellent day out. This site also features as one of our Top Ten Tourist Attractions in Israel.

Photo by Averain (cc)

Flavian Amphitheatre

Vespasian built this vast amphitheatre in Pozzuoli which became the third largest arena in the Roman world.

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The Flavian Amphitheatre (Amphitheatre Flavium) in Pozzuoli was constructed during the reign of the Emperor Vespasian, probably in around 70AD.

Vespasian, who was the first Flavian dynasty emperor, built this vast amphitheatre – the third largest in Ancient Rome after those of Rome and Capua – in Pozzuoli as it was at an important crossroad.

Later damaged by ash and rubble from the eruption of the Solfatara volcano, Pozzuoli’s Flavian Amphitheatre lay abandoned and was used as a quarry for its marble. Nevertheless, when it was excavated in the nineteenth century, archaeologists found the Flavian Amphitheatre in a very good state of preservation, with many of its walls and floors intact.

However, one of the key highlights of a trip to the Flavian Amphitheatre is the fact that you can explore the underbelly of this once-thriving stadium and wander through the rooms and chambers below the arena itself. It is even possible to see the quarters in which the gladiators themselves would have prepared for their contests. This amazing set of underground corridors and passageways remains in an excellent state of preservation and gives a genuine glimpse into the amphitheatre's past .

Today, the Flavian Amphitheatre operates as a popular destination for those who visit the (now dormant) Solfatara volcano and the local area.

Photo by MarilynJane (cc)

Hod Hill

Vespasian was in command of the second legion when they conquered the area during the Roman invasion of Britain and it is likely his forces captured Hod Hill during this campaign.

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Hod Hill is an Iron Age hillfort and one of the largest of its kind in Dorset. With its imposing size and ramparts, Hod Hill would have defended a village.

In 44 AD, it is likely to have been captured by the Romans during their invasion of Britain. The Roman Second Legion, led by the future emperor Vespasian, was sent to subdue the region and captured a number of hill forts in the area.

Evidence of Roman occupation of Hod Hill can be seen at the site in the form of the remains of a Roman fort.

Stobi

Stobi in Macedonia was an ancient settlement of Paeonia before becoming a Roman city under the Emperor Vespasian.

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Stobi is one of Macedonia’s most famous archaeological sites. Once the capital of the kingdom of Paeonia, Stobi was located along a busy trade route and thrived as a commercial hub specialising in the trade of salt. Stobi reached its peak in the third or fourth century AD.

Whilst the first mention of Stobi dates back to the second century BC, it is thought to have been founded several centuries – perhaps three or four hundred years - prior to this.

In the second half of the second century BC, Stobi came under Roman rule and, in 69 AD, under the Emperor Vespasian, it became a municipium. It continued to flourish up to the sixth century AD, when it was an important Christian site.

Today, the archaeological site of Stobi houses a wealth of ancient ruins, including the remains of palaces, baths, streets, temples and a second century AD theatre. Most of the ruins date back to the third century AD, although some, like the theatre, were built earlier. There are also several well-preserved vivid mosaics throughout the site as well as remnants of early Christianity, such as numerous basilicas.

Photo by albertopveiga (cc)

The Colosseum

The Colosseum was Vespasian’s gift to the people of Rome. A vast amphitheatre capable of holding tens of thousands of spectators, it remains a renowned symbol of the Roman Empire. Vespasian himself would not live to see it completed, and it was left to his son Titus to finish his father’s grand project.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Colosseum is a site like no other. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, nothing represents the sheer power and magnificence of the Roman Empire like this stunning piece of ancient architecture.

The Colosseum, or ‘Colosseo’ in Italian, was once the largest amphitheatre in the Roman Empire. It was built in the first century AD by the Emperor Vespasian as a place for the people of Rome to enjoy. Originally named the Flavian Amphitheatre, after Vespasian’s family name, the man who brought the Roman Empire back from the brink would not live to see its completion.

The construction of the Colosseum was very much a symbolic gesture to create a clear distinction between Vespasian and his predecessor, Nero. Nero had committed suicide after suffering military coups, partially a result of his extravagance, which included building the opulent Golden House and a vast statue of himself. By contrast, Vespasian was building the Colosseum for the citizens of Rome. As if to emphasise this point, the Colosseum was built in the former gardens of Nero’s palace over the site where Nero’s colossal statue had stood.

Completed in 80 AD, the Colosseum was opened with great fanfare by Titus, Vespasian’s son and successor. He marked the opening of the Colosseum with one hundred days of games, including stunning battle recreations on artificial lakes of water. The fact that the Colosseum was completed by this date was particularly impressive considering the building’s incredible complexity, vast size and the fact that Vespasian only came to power in 69 AD.

Even despite the short timescale of the build, the result was spectacular. Not only was the Colosseum able to take up to 50,000 spectators, it was also perfectly symmetrical, ornately decorated in marble and stone and an incredible feat of engineering.

The Colosseum remained the amphitheatre of Rome until the end of the Roman Empire. This was the place where gladiators, lions and those accused of crimes were put to the test, often fighting to the death.

Since the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum has suffered from various destructive forces, including extensive pillaging of its stone and marble as well as natural disasters such as earthquakes. In fact, its materials contributed to many famous Roman buildings such as St Peter’s Cathedral and the Palazzo Venezia. Yet, even though a third of the Colosseum has been lost over time, this magnificent structure remains one of the most fascinating and beautiful historic sites in the world.

A visit to the Colosseum offers a great insight into the lives of Roman citizens and those who had the misfortune of fighting there. In particular, it is now possible to tour the underground hallways and corridors where the gladiators of ancient Rome would prepare to fight and ponder their mortality. Also recently opened are the higher areas of the structure, from where you can take in views of the Roman Forum.

There is a museum within the Colosseum with a wealth of interesting artifacts and information and audio guides are available in a number of languages. This site also features as one of our Top 10 Tourist Attractions in Italy.

The Serapeum

The Serapeum was a magnificent ancient temple and library complex in Alexandria. Vespasian visited the Serapeum in 69/70AD and is said to have performed healing acts which helped support his claim to be the rightful emperor.

DID YOU KNOW?

The Serapeum in Alexandria was an ancient temple dedicated to the worship of the Greco-Egyptian deity Serapis.

Built by Ptolemy III in the third century BC, the Serapeum also housed an important library which may have served as an annex of the Great Library of Alexandria.

In late 69AD or early 70AD Vespasian visited the Serapeum to help confirm his place as the rightful Roman Emperor during the civil war he fought with Vitellius.

Ancient writers describe the Serapeum as one of the most magnificent temples of the ancient world and it was said to be made of marble with great adornments throughout.

The Serapeum was destroyed in 391AD - either by a Christian mob or by Roman soldiers on instructions from the Christian authorities of the Roman Empire.

Today there is little to see at the Serapeum site, though access to the underground library remains and is worth a visit. Other artefacts from the Serapeum can be found in the Greco-Roman Museum of Alexandria.