The biggest site in town is the amphitheatre, or coliseum. Glimpses through different side streets pull you even closer like the hub it has always been. Huge in scale, some seating is till original and large towers give sweeping views of the city and Rhone. Built in 90 AD it’s
hard to imagine all the events that have taken place in this building. Walking around and around, I tried to imagine it filled with 20 000 screaming fans as gladiators ripped apart animals, but it was hard. From Medieval times to the 1830’s, it was bricked up and used as a fortified city. 212 housed and 2 churches made their home in the security of this fortress. Brian scoped out several indents where floor beams had been inserted, and hinges for doors had been drilled, as well as a fireplace opening. After the 1830’s it’s been used for local bull-fights and has been undergoing extensive renovations. Sandblasters pierced our ears and evidence of new stone was everywhere. Part of me was sad to see the old stone replaced like this. But if it wasn’t done, there would be nothing left to see! Also, who’s to say what is ‘original’ and what is not after so long a time. For a building as old as this, I believe a few renovations have taken place over the years!
Just down the street was the Theater Antique, or Classical Theater. A century older than the amphitheater, it was a semi-circular shape and only seated 10 000. Not much remains but 2 columns, 6 bits of columns, and piles and piles of rubble with fantastic carvings on them. It’s amazing to think of a nation who worked so hard to conquer other lands. And not just conquer, but build amazing structures, theaters, coliseums, walls, and aqua-ducts. And other nations didn’t even really resist. They knew the status to being ’Roman’ and that it would bring them instant infrastructure, roads, money, etc.
But enough of all this Roman talk - we’re in France after all! Italy will come when we set sail tomorrow night. For now we’re dining on our last few snipits of cheese, provincial bread and aioli sauce.
Wait a minute, we’re not traveling to Italy until tomorrow…but we spent the day in Arles exploring Roman architecture.