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Arles II by David Davies

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Detail of the Roman amphitheatre at Arles, in Provence in the south of France, taken as the sun was setting.

(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.

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.

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  • Al Bourassa
    Al Bourassaover 4 years ago

    Those Roman buildings are one of my favorite things in Europe. Gosh they had great architects!

  • Didn’t they just! I love them too.

    – David Davies

  • WatscapePhoto
    WatscapePhotoover 4 years ago

    Marvellous architecture. Great photo, David.

  • Thanks Steve!

    – David Davies

  • tinnieopener
    tinnieopenerover 4 years ago

    Beautiful capture David….stunning to say the least!!!

  • Thank you so much!

    – David Davies

  • SPFisher
    SPFisherover 4 years ago

    just beautiful light and tones!

  • Thank you, Simone.

    – David Davies

  • Deborah Lazarus
    Deborah Lazarusover 3 years ago

  • Thanks, Deb.

    – David Davies

  • trobe
    trobeover 3 years ago

    You’ve been picked for our Mayday feature – Great Work!

  • Thank you so very much, I really appreciate that!

    – David Davies

  • trobe
    trobeover 3 years ago

    Have you considered entering this image in the “Classic Metal” challenge in All That’s Archaeology?

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