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

4.3/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Puroza (10 months ago)
In the winter it’s different of course than in the summer but still a nice please to be. We came from Dijon and it’s so different. The people, the air, the food. There are some good restaurants in the center and many things to see.
Jacob SungIn Hong (10 months ago)
This is a place where you can see the traces of ancient Rome. It may have been an honor in the past, but now it's a quiet place of feeling.
JP O (10 months ago)
How are you going to go to oral and not visit the amphitheater it's right there it's so big and it's so much fun to walk around and take pictures highly recommended
Anthony (14 months ago)
Facade is amazing although indoors is not great. Used as a bull ring and very little to learn on the inside. Enjoy the outside and save your €uros as there is little if anything to see. The tower has good views.
Veste Mocoso (14 months ago)
The Arles Amphitheatre has nothing the Roman Colosseum didn't have except for the smaller size and the 4 towers. It is still used today for concerts and bullfights. It is an amazing structure if like history or arquitecture. We visited it during heritage days so entrance was free as any other national monuments in France. The ticket booth guy spoke enough English to understand us but he was amazing. Don't miss going to Arles for its history and culture, and when in here, don't miss visiting the amphitheater.
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