Roman Amphitheatre meets Giant Horse. Hmm...
Trip Start May 13, 2008
128Trip End Ongoing
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Our guide was very enthusiastic for this time of the morning, and we definitely didn't appreciate this enthusiasm until later in the day - everyone was trying to go back to sleep on the road to our first stop, El-Jem. It felt like it should have been almost lunchtime when we arrived, the amount of time we'd been up. But no, it was just past 8am... quite good really as we'd beaten the massive rush. Off we piled, to be met with people selling an impressive variety of items, each as useless as the next.
Anyway, El-Jem is famed for its amphitheatre, which is dates from 200-300 AD and is apparently the third biggest of the Roman Empire, and better preserved than the Coliseum in Rome. And to give it credit, it certainly was very well preserved, and very striking at that, although photos can never really do a structure like this justice I don't think. But that never stopped me from trying!
We entered straight into the main ring and stared up and around, marvelling at the size of it all and trying to take it in from every different angle. Then we climbed up onto the spectactors seats - some of the front seats had Roman initials carved below them that were still visible to mark the seats of the most important people. It apparently held around 30-35,000 people at one point so the atmosphere must have been absolutely mental.
Some of the structures here were brilliant, from the remains of stands, to the omnipresent archways.
We also went underground to explore the cages where the animals/victims were kept before they came up into the ampitheatre. Man, it was not nice down there, especially if you could hear the crowd cheering for your blood aswell! Finally I climbed up the other side to get another perspective. Admittedly it was less impressive from here because this was the most built up side, so there was less to see. But still, another fine angle on the place, and an option to see out onto the actual town.
This trip was off to a cracking start already, that place was brilliant, completely vindicated the 5am get up. The next place we stopped at, for a "comfort break" was a complete bolt out of the blue aswell. I absolutely lovelovelove the randomness of it - a totally obscure place called Mahares, which boasted a superb treat in the form of a collection of miscellaneous statues and structures on its beach. These ranged from a donut shaped man, to a giant robot, to a giant horse, with half a dozen other weird and wonderful items in between. An awesome way to spend 20 minutes, photographing these.
Stay tuned for future desert trip installments... can it get any better than a giant horse on a beach? (and we haven't even got anywhere near the Sahara yet!!)