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Gallien palace, a legendary origin?

The palace by Rouargue (1845) | The British Library / Public domain
Gallo-Roman Legend Gallien palace

Burdigala is Bordeaux's former name, a town founded in the 3th century B.C. by Gallic people coming from Central France. In Celtic language, burdi means "creek" and gala "swampy".

Well, a swampy beach! So, Burdigala, originally, wasn’t very friendly!

In 56 B.C., Romans came: let’s go, they raised temples, and aqueducts... nowadays, nothing remains from that rich past. Nothing but our amphitheatre!

It was raised in 260 probably by emperor Gallien, who governed the area in the name of Romans, between 260 and 268.

Another story (a legend, based on a medieval tale) says it was built by king Charlemagne: he came back from Spain where he fought against the Saracens.

In Bordeaux, he erected a palace for his first wife, Gallienne, king of Toledo’s daughter. But this so called palace was an amphitheatre, not a medieval castle!

In short, Gallien or one of his own probably raised the theatre: besides, several coins bearing his effigy were found on the site...

The amphitheatre is now in ruins. It used to be 135 metres long, 110 metres large, and 20 metres high! Just imagine that it could welcome 20 000 people...

Entirely raised with square stones and thick bricks, our building was surrounded by 6 walls. Between each wall, they raised galleries with wooden tiers.

2 gates were located on each side of the theatre, to the east and west: add to this 15 little doors all around the place. Well, you get it, the current building is nowadays in ruins... Actually, it was the French Revolution who destroyed it.

The amphitheatre was sold and they wanted to raze it. Gironde prefect, Mr. Thibaudau, tried to stop this, in 1800. But it was too late... those who owned plot of lands started to raise their houses...

About the the author

I'm fond of strolls and History, with juicy and spicy details!