Saturday, January 23, 2016

Photo Tour of Nimes Ampitheatre

by Richard Denning

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. 

Each terrace was accessed via a gallery and hundreds of stairwells and passages.

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. 

In modern times it is used for Bull Fighting and concerts.


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


  1. Thank you for your wonderful post Richard! I enjoyed it so much. Think I must have lived back then as anything to do with the Romans just fascinates me. Your photos are so interesting too.

  2. Thank you for this post! I look forward to seeing your other posts about Provence, as I understand it has many good Roman ruins.

    If you haven't read it, you may like "Madam, Will You Talk?" by Mary Stewart. It's a romantic suspense written in the 1950s and set in Provence, and features several of the Roman ruins. I think it's excellent!

    1. I haven't read "Madam, Will You Talk?" in ages! Absolutely love Mary Stewart.

  3. It was a wonderful post. Thank you Richard!

  4. Thoroughly enjoyed your post. They don't build 'em like that anymore lol.

  5. Thanks for the photo-tour, Richard. Definitely a place on my to-visit list now.

  6. Thank you. My first trip abroad at the age of 13 was to Nimes and I loved it. You've brought back all kinds of memories.
    April Munday

  7. Thank you. My first trip abroad was to Nimes at the age of 13. This has brought back many happy memories


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