Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Arena (Les arènes de Nîmes), a Roman amphitheatre in Nîmes, France

Nîmes is the capital of the present department Gard in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. This Roman colony was was strategically located on the Via Domitia, the impressive road constructed c. 118 B.C. which communicated between Italy and Spain.

The Arena of Nîmes is one of the best preserved ancient Roman amphiteathres. It was constructed sometime around 70 A.D., just as Jerusalem was being destroyed in the eastern part of the Empire. The elliptical amphiteathre has 34 rows of stone seats which could accomodate more than 16,000 spectators at the 'games'. As times changed and the Empire collapsed, the Arena was preserved largely because people kept finding new ways to utilize it, rather than just demolishing it in order to quarry its stone for other structures (as unfortunately happened with the Colosseum in Rome). In the mid-1800s the Arena was renovated to serve as a bullring.

View of the action from the very top seats.

Hallway on the top level, circling the Arena

Well-worn step

Top seats in the Arena

View of Nîmes from the top of the Arena.