After Rome, the beautiful city of Arles, in the south of France is the place where we find the largest number of Roman remains.
Impressive roman monuments
At the height of Roman times, more than 50,000 people lived in “Colonia Julia Paterna Arelate”. Arles offers a remarkable example of the adaptation of an ancient city to the civilization of medieval Europe. It preserves impressive Roman monuments, the oldest of which – ancient theatre, cryptoporticoes, amphitheater – date back to the 1st century BC. AD and 1st century AD. In the 4th century, it experienced a second golden age as evidenced by the baths of Constantine and the necropolis of Alyscamps. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Arles once again became one of the most beautiful cities in the Mediterranean world. Inside the walls, Saint-Trophime with its cloister is an essential monument of Provençal Romanesque art.
The Roman Amphitheater
The Roman Amphitheater is remarkable, the games could accommodate up to 21,000 spectators. The Arles amphitheater was built at the end of the 1st century to the north of the ancient city, on the height hill. The amphitheater, also called the Arena, is then part of an extension and general embellishment of the city. It was during the same period that the thermal baths were built, that the ramparts were raised and that the ancient residential quarters were laid out. Circular interior and exterior gallery, horizontal passages, staircases arranged alternately: the construction is ingenious. The building also surprises with its dimensions, more than 130m long. It is the most visited monument in the city.
The Roman theater
Neighbor and contemporary of the amphitheater, the Roman Theater still deploys part of its bleachers and its orchestra. It was the Emperor Augustus who was behind the construction of the Roman Theater in Arles. The Ancient Theater measures 102 m and although it is not completely preserved, it could accommodate 10,000 spectators at the time. Only the lower rows of bleachers, the orchestra, the stage curtain pit have come down to us. On the other hand, all that remains of the stage wall are two high marble columns. This exceptional scenic location comes to life every summer, with a great program including Les Escales du Cargo.
Lovers of Roman history will push their discovery a little further by going under the city: the Cryptoporticoes, impressive underground galleries, formed the base, the invisible part of the forum, the central public square of the Roman city.
The Thermes de Constantin
On the banks of the Rhône, the Thermes de Constantin were a great success thanks to the hypocausts which made it possible to circulate hot air under the basement using brick pallets.
Les Alyscamps, a Christian necropolis, offers a shaded walk along an alley lined with remarkable sarcophagi. They were notably painted by Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin during the autumn of 1888. In addition, it was in Alyscamps that the Minimes Brothers set up the first public archaeological museum in Arles in 1784.