In the Summer of 2015, I was lucky enough to spend 2 very hot and sunny weeks in Provence, France. This area has to be one of the most fascinating locations if you are interested in history. I plan to share some of the images in this and other posts.
One of the most magnificent locations in the region is the Amphitheater at Nimes.
This is considered the best preserved Amphitheatre anywhere. Indeed, so much of the structure exists that the movie Gladiator was shot here. A visit is considerably enhanced by a very good audio tour and some nice Living History touches.
The ampitheatre measures 133 metres long and 101 metres wide and encloses an arena of 68 by 38 metres. The building is 21 metres high, its exterior façade comprises two floors of sixty superimposed arches
All around the perimeter the top level blocks of stone were drilled in. Then long poles could stick out over the arena. These poles were used to suspend a huge canvas canopy which provided protection for the spectators against the scorching sun.
The amiptheatre could hold 24,000 spectators (as many as can sit today in Warwickshire Country Cricket ground at Egbaston). These were accommodated on 34 rows of terraces.
The design was clever so as to avoid crush and injury to spectators, but also to separate them into their classes. No sitting with the riff raff if you were of the right class!
Towards the end of the Empire gladiatorial combat was made illegal and the amphitheater fell into disuse.
In the 12th century a château was built inside the monument. Later still, a village of more than 700 inhabitants developed within the amphitheatre, and two churches were built to service the population.
Eventually the idea emerged to restore the monument. However this was not easy given the resident population, and it was not until the early 19th century that the final houses were demolished. It was the architect Henri Revoil who completed the restoration of the monument.
Richard Denning is a historical fiction author whose main period of interest is the Early Anglo-Saxon Era. On this particular occasion however Richard is departing from mentioning his books here to drop in a mention of a card game he has produced called, oddly enough "Tinker Tailor". In one of his other lives Richard is an occasional game designer. Find out more about Tailor and his other games on his website medusagames.co.uk