Les Arènes Entrance
Enter Arles' Roman arena from the north side.
Église Notre Dame de la Major
Constructed in the 12th century, this church sits on one of Arles' highest points.
Delve into the delta by 4WD jeep on safari-style half-day trips, which can be combined with horseback rambles.
Le Comptoir du Calendal
Based on the ground floor of Le Calendal hotel, this bright and breezy cafe does a nice line in lunchtime sandwiches and salads, plus a...
Rond-Point des Arènes · interesting places nearby
Les Arènes information
During the heyday of Roman Gaul, every important town had an amphitheatre, where gladiators fought to the death and wild animals met their (usually grisly) end. Few have survived, but Arles (like nearby Nîmes) has preserved its colosseum largely intact. At 136m long, 107m wide and 21m tall, built around 90AD, the oval-shaped amphitheatre would have held 21,000 baying spectators, and though the structure has suffered down the centuries, it's still evocative of the might and ambition of the Roman empire.
Following the fall of the Roman Empire during the 5th century AD, the amphitheatre became a defensive fortress, with the addition of four watchtowers on each side. Over subsequent centuries, a 'town within a town' grew up within its walls, containing more than 200 houses and two chapels, all of which had to be razed when the amphitheatre was returned to its original use in the 1820s.
Much of the structure's original architecture remains, including terraces, galleries and even the original Roman drainage system. Its design was inspired by the Roman Colosseum, although on a much smaller scale.
Today it's used to host outdoor spectacles, including bullfights, courses Camarguaises and concerts. Tickets for most events are sold at the ticket office next to the entrance.
The entrance is on the north side.