Statue of a bullfighter in front of Arles Amphitheatre in France
Photo by Dennis Jarvis  –  Link

Arles Amphitheatre

France > Arles

Built in 90 AD, the Arles Amphitheatre is the south of France's version of Rome's Colosseum. This spectacular landmark right in the middle of Arles is an ancient relic of Roman times, hinting at the city's rich cultural heritage. Hundreds of years ago, the 20,000-seat arena - a true architectural feat in those days - was used for gladiator fights and chariot races. These days it still regularly hosts concerts, plays and bullfights - particularly during the annual Feria de Pâques in late March to early April.

The building

Arles Amphitheatre is 136m long and 109m wide, featuring more than 120 arches, a series of galleries and staircases and two levels of seats. For centuries it was used for entertainment purposes, but after the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century it was converted into a fortress and shelter for the population. Four towers were built atop the amphitheatre, and more than 200 houses were built within, transforming it into a town with a public square.

The amphitheatre remained residential until the late 18th century, when writer Prosper Mérimée instigated a movement to designate it as a national historic monument. In 1981, the amphitheatre became a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with other sites in Arles like the Church of Saint-Trophime, the Roman theatre and the Alyscamps, a large Roman necropolis (cemetery) just outside the city walls.

Visiting Arles Amphitheatre

  • How to get the best view: Climb to the top of the medieval tower. If you're a shutterbug, late afternoon has the best lighting!
  • How to save money: The Liberty Pass (valid for 1 month) lets you visit 6 sites including the Reattu Museum and another museum of your choice. At €12 per person, it's just a few euros more than entry to the Amphitheatre and it's a much better deal than buying a ticket for just the amphitheatre. Visit the Arles tourism website for more info.
  • Access: It can be a bit challenging to navigate this site with a pram or wheelchair. Note also that some of the stairs are steep, slippy and somewhat uneven.
  • Kids in tow? You might want to leave them behind if you're attending a gladiators show as the swords and fighting can be a bit scary for little ones.
Opening Times

November 2nd to February 28th

  • Open Daily: 10:00 AM to 05:00 PM

March 1st to April 30th

  • Open Daily: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM

May 2nd to September 30th

  • Open Daily: 09:00 AM to 07:00 PM

October 1st to October 31st

  • Open Daily: 09:00 AM to 06:00 PM
Price Information

Entry to Arles Amphitheatre

  • General : 9.00 EUR
Address

1,

Rond-Point des Arènes

Arles

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

France 13200