Arles Amphitheatre

Arles, France

The two-tiered Roman amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times. Built in 90 AD, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators, and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws large crowds for bullfighting as well as plays and concerts in summer.

The building measures 136 m in length and 109 m wide, and features 120 arches. It has an oval arena surrounded by terraces, arcades on two levels (60 in all), bleachers, a system of galleries, drainage system in many corridors of access and staircases for a quick exit from the crowd. It was obviously inspired by the Colosseum in Rome (in 72-80), being built slightly later (in 90).

With the fall of the Empire in the 5th century, the amphitheatre became a shelter for the population and was transformed into a fortress with four towers (the southern tower is not restored). The structure encircled more than 200 houses, becoming a real town, with its public square built in the centre of the arena and two chapels, one in the centre of the building, and another one at the base of the west tower.

This new residential role continued until the late 18th century, and in 1825 through the initiative of the writer Prosper Mérimée, the change to national historical monument began. In 1826, expropriation began of the houses built within the building, which ended by 1830 when the first event was organized in the arena - a race of the bulls to celebrate the taking of Algiers.

Arles Amphitheatre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with other Roman buildings of the city, as part of the Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments group.

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Details

Founded: 90 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France
Historical period: Roman Gaul (France)

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Georgiana Ioana (2 years ago)
We were looking forward to visit this site since some time. We have watched several YouTube videos about this touristic attraction before we even knew will visit Arles. Overall the place did not disappoint us. The huge structure which dated since almost 2000 years ago made us appreciate the care of the local authorities to preserve and maintain this important site. We recommend taking the time and sit on one of the benches while imagining what went on the area many hundreds of years ago. The views from one of the towers is great too.
Curt Stolp (2 years ago)
It's awe inspiring to see such structures. Remnants from and ancient past, silently reminding us that our life on this earth is but a fleeting moment. At the same time asking us what we will leave behind. 2000 years and still standing. Definitely worth the visit
Yevgeny Tsodikovich (2 years ago)
Nice amphitheater. The cashier convinced us to by the pass. For 3€ extra we could visit much more attractions in the city. Inside, it is nice but missing some "action"...
Wolfgang Laun (2 years ago)
Well preserved and restored, the amphitheater provides a fine impression of what the ancient arena must have looked like. Moreover, after climbing one of the towers added to the fortress, you have a fine view of the surrounding city and its outskirts, and you can appreciate the intricate structure of the stairways. The ancient Romans were indeed master builders!
Kamila Wiatr (2 years ago)
A reasonably well-preserved place with a hint of modernity. Historical object that is used today with little modification. A beautiful place with a soul, you can feel the history here.
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