Arles amphitheatre, morituri te salutant!
Arles, a prosperous city
Located near the Mediterranean sea, Arles became a vast warehouse and a very important commercial place. Jules Caesar besieged it in 49 BC.
Surrounding walls were raised to protect the city, aqueducts were erected, thermae, a theatre... In the beginning of the 4th century, Constantine lived here.
After Roman Empire collapsed, Arles belonged to Visigoths (455), to Ostrogoth, to Franks (536) and to Burgondes... then it became a very prosperous city in 1251.
Now we had set up the scenery. But what about this famous amphitheatre?
At least as big as Nîmes theatre, Arles theatre was more than 12 000 square metres! Whoa, so huge...
In the 8th century, they transformed it into a fortress and poor inhabitants used to live here. They added 3 square towers to the north, east and west.
It was only in the 19th century that they destroyed the 212 houses piled up here!
People used to enter on the ground floor, by 4 main gates. The surrounding walls was made of two rows of superposed porticos. Emperors organized games, here.
In 538, king of France Childebert restored the amphitheatre and organized battles with false gladiators... actors!