Arles by David Davies

Currently unavailable for purchase

Available to buy on…

The Roman amphitheatre at Arles, in Provence in the south of France.

(Wikipedia) This two-tiered Roman Amphitheatre is probably the most prominent tourist attraction in the city of Arles, which thrived in Roman times.

Measuring 136 m (446 ft) in length and 109 m (358 ft) wide, the 120 arches date back to the first century BC. The amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators, and was built to provide entertainment in the form of chariot races and bloody hand-to-hand battles. Today, it draws large crowds for a sport only slightly less brutal – bullfighting – as well as plays and concerts in summer.

The building has the oval arena surrounded by terraces, arcades on two levels (60 in all), bleachers, a system of galleries, drainage system in many corridors of access and staircases for a quick exit from the crowd. It was obviously inspired by the Colosseum in Rome (72-80), which is slightly posterior (90). The amphitheater was not expected to receive 25,000 spectators, the architect was therefore forced to reduce the size and replace the dual system of galleries outside of the Coliseum by a single annular gallery. This difference is explained by the conformation of the land. This “temple” of the game has housed gladiators and hunting scenes for more than four centuries.

With the fall of the Empire in the fifth century, the amphitheater became a shelter of the population and was transformed into a fortress with four towers and which fit in more than 200 houses and two chapels. The amphitheatre became a real town, with its public square built in the center of the arena and two chapels, one in the center of the building, and another one at the base of the west tower.

This new residential role continued until the expropriation started in the late eighteenth century, when in 1825 by the initiative of the writer Prosper Mérimée started the change to national historical monument. In 1826 began the expropriation of the houses built within the building, which ended in 1830 when the first event was organized in the arena – race of the bulls to celebrate the taking of Algiers.

Olympus OM-10, 50mm 1.8


rome, france, amphitheatre, provence, arles

I’ve been an amateur photographer for as long as I can remember, which at my age is about a couple of weeks! I’ve owned film cameras from Zeiss, Scheider, Leica, Nikon and Olympus, as well as digital cameras from Pentax and Canon, and still have several, if I can ever find them. I currently use a Sony NEX-5N with an 18-55mm zoom lens, and after a year of ownership am still learning all the functions.

View Full Profile


  • Al Bourassa
    Al Bourassaalmost 4 years ago

    Magnificent structures.

  • When the Romans built they built to last!

    – David Davies

  • WatscapePhoto
    WatscapePhotoalmost 4 years ago

    Excellent photo. David.

  • Thank you, Steve.

    – David Davies

  • Ryan Davison Crisp
    Ryan Davison C...almost 4 years ago

    wonderful perspective on this, nicely done

  • Thanks, Ryan.

    – David Davies

  • klikker
    klikkeralmost 4 years ago

    Very nice pov David. Nick:))

  • Thank you Nick.

    – David Davies

  • Tom Gomez
    Tom Gomezalmost 4 years ago

    Fabulous historic building …

  • Thank you Tom, it certainly is!

    – David Davies

  • Debbie Robbins
    Debbie Robbinsalmost 4 years ago

    Wonderful shot of this…. passed by it quickly in a Taxi in the 70s,,, HA :))))

  • Darn, you beat me by ten years! lol The Romans sure knew how to build!

    – David Davies

  • Ralph de Zilva
    Ralph de Zilvaover 3 years ago

    Beautiful old building and well captured David. We spent a night in Provence back in 2002 and left early next morning, so as a result we missed seeing this. What a pity. It was pouring with rain though.

  • Thanks, Ralph. It was, and is, a magic place.

    – David Davies

  • klikker
    klikkerover 3 years ago

  • David Davies
    David Daviesover 3 years ago

    Thanks, Nick!

  • Audrey Clarke
    Audrey Clarkeover 3 years ago

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait