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Arles Amphitheatre

This is the Arles Amphitheatre.


Best I could get being so close from here. On a walking tour so never got to go back and get more of it.


Looks amazing - reminds me of seeing one in Verona, Italy the year before.


The Arles Amphitheatre (French: Arènes d'Arles) is a Roman amphitheatre in the southern French town of Arles. This two-tiered Roman Amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times.


Measuring 136 m (446 ft) in length and 109 m (358 ft) wide, the 120 arches date back to the 1st century BC. 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 has the 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 (72-80), which is slightly posterior (90). The amphitheater was not expected to receive 25,000 spectators, the architect was therefore forced to reduce the size and replace the dual system of galleries outside of the Coliseum by a single annular gallery. This difference is explained by the conformation of the land. This "temple" of the game has housed gladiators and hunting scenes for more than four centuries.


With the fall of the Empire in the 5th century, the amphitheater became a shelter of the population and was transformed into a fortress with four towers and which fit in more than 200 houses and two chapels. The amphitheatre became a real town, with its public square built in the center of the arena and two chapels, one in the center of the building, and another one at the base of the west tower.


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


This is probably the most representative monument of the town. It is well preserved, ellipse shaped, with a 136 m long main axis and a 107 m smaller one. It was built between the 1st and 2nd centuries and could seat from 20000 to 30000 spectators.


It was reserved for gladiatorial events. For certain spectacles the stage was raised almost to podium level using a floor structure inclined in slots which are still visible today.


An ingenious system of corridors was used to quickly evacuate spectators. The basement was used for animal cages and machinery.


The area was fortified during the Barbarian invasions and has suffered much damaged since. A lot of the stone was used to build the town.


Today only the two lower tiers of 60 arches remain, the upper attic having disappeared. From the top of the tiers, we can discover the Rhone, the Camargue and the Alpilles.


Even today, the arena still fills up for festivals, corridas and bull fights.


From a tourist book of Arles I got from the tourist office there.


It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Arles.

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Taken on May 24, 2011