San Juan de Ortega Monastery was probably built by Saint John of Ortega himself, with the help of his friend and fellow saint, Domingo de la Calzada, around 1142 as a help point to the pilgrims who walked to Santiago de Compostela along the Way of Saint James. The monastery was originally staffed by a community of Augustinian canons.
The monastery belonged to the Order of Los Jerónimos from 1432 until the 1835, when the monastery was disbanded. During their tenure, the monks developed a pharmacy known throughout the area. In the sixteenth century, the hospice had room for sixteen beds. At one time a welcomed refuge for pilgrims, over time the area declined and the monastery was abandoned in the nineteenth century, with the local farmers using the church as a barn for hay.
The hamlet is very small and sparsely inhabited. With the increase in pilgrims along the Camino since the 1980s, the former monastery has undergone some gradual restoration. A portion of the premises has been fitted out as a albergue with fifty beds. The monastery has a café where pilgrims can rest and eat.
The church is an example of late Romanesque art, constructed during the 12th and 13th centuries. The oldest part of the church is the three twelfth century apses, built either by or under the direction of St John. Isabella I of Castile had Juan de Colonia, architect of Burgos Cathedral, add Gothic arches in the fifteenth century. She also financed construction of the Chapel of St Nicholas.
The illustrated capitals deserve special mention, as well as the tomb of the Saint, in the crypt. in Each year in March and September at 5 pm (solar time) on the equinox light penetrates through a small window placed in the main façade and a small beam of light illuminates the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, sculpted in stone in the top of a pillar.References:
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.