Viljandi castle was one of the strongest castles in Livonia. The construction was started 1224 under Teutonic Order in place of a former hillfort. The crusaders of Sword Brethren conquered the hill fort at the place of later main castle in 1223. A year later, construction of stone fortifications started. Viljandi was chosen as the high seat of the order.
The convent house, a typical form of castle of Teutonic Knights, was erected late 13th – early 14th century. In the following centuries the castle was extended and fortified further. It was badly damaged in the Polish-Swedish wars in early 17th century and not repaired any more. In 18th century, the ruins were used for quarrying stones for construction work in Viljandi.
The first excavations in the castle were performed in 1878–1879. In recent decades, these have turned to almost yearly events. Currently the ruins form a popular resort area just outside of central Viljandi. An open-air stage is located in the former central courtyard.
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.