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Amphitheater in Nimes: a working French Colosseum


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Amphitheater in Nimes: a working French Colosseum


The Roman Empire, created by Octavian Augustus, lasted 500 years (from 27 BC to 476 AD) and was one of the most powerful empires in world history. Roman troops annexed to the empire many European and Asian states, all countries of the Mediterranean region. Some large European cities were founded on the site of military Roman settlements (Frankfurt am Main).

Great Rome spread throughout the empire not only its order and will, but also its culture. In Greece and Spain, in Turkey and Tunisia, ancient theaters and amphitheaters, which the Romans loved so much, are still preserved.

Ancient amphitheaters: gladiator fights, horse races, circus

The Roman Amphitheater is a sports arena surrounded by seats and protected from the outside world by a powerful wall. One of the favorite spectacles of the entire empire was gladiatorial fights: they existed until the 5th century AD, after which they were prohibited at the insistence of the Christian church.

Special schools were built for gladiators: most often slaves, prisoners of war and convicts fell into them, but there were also those who went there of their own free will. In addition to the favorite one-to-one fights, there were group fights, carriage fights, some gladiators fought with predatory animals. When there were no gladiatorial fights, the arenas of the amphitheaters were used for circus performances, horse races, and theatrical performances. During big holidays, performances could be combined. All these spectacles were extremely popular, so the Roman amphitheaters were distinguished by their scope: tens of thousands of spectator seats, huge territories.

Amphitheaters built BC and in the I-II century AD, have survived to this day, have become historical and tourist sites:

  • Colosseum (Italy)
  • Camp Amphitheater (Italy)
  • Arena di Verona (Italy)
  • Odeon (Greece)
  • Military and Civil Amphitheaters (Budapest)
  • Amphitheater of Mark Antony (Tunisia)
  • Antique amphitheater in Nimes (France)
  • Pula Amphitheater (Croatia).

The Arena di Verona, the Pula amphitheater and the Nîmes amphitheater are still used as arenas and stages for all sorts of shows and competitions.

Amphitheater in Nimes: a fortress with a market on the site of the arena, bullfighting, concert venue

In Nimes at the beginning of our era there was a famous school of gladiators. In the 1st century A.D. built an oval amphitheater with walls 21 m high, decorated with arches in 2 rows. On the walls of the offices, there are inscriptions with the names of gladiators and information about the battles. There are also inscriptions on the spectator seats: rich and noble families bought the best seats for their use. The number of spectator places is 24,000.

In the Nimes amphitheater, battles took place in pairs and in groups, using different types of weapons, fights with predators. The inhabitants of Nîmes were also big fans of horse racing: in addition to traditional horse races, oxen races were held here.

With the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. and the prohibition of gladiatorial fights, the solid structures of the amphitheaters lost their purpose - they were now used to defend against an external enemy. In the VI-VII century A.D. the territory of the amphitheater in Nîmes is being settled by locals: thick walls provide security. In the XII century, the Viscount of Nims settled here with his court. In the Middle Ages, houses were built inside the amphitheater, they traded, even fought.

Already at the beginning of the 19th century, the French realized that a historical monument that miraculously survived is a national treasure, which needs to be returned to its former status. In the middle of the 19th century, work was carried out to dismantle the buildings inside the building, put the amphitheater in order and began to use it as an arena for the Camargue races (French races), bullfights. In front of the amphitheater today there is a sculpture - a bullfighter with a cloak.

The amphitheater in Nîmes still serves as a venue for spectacular events: musical concerts that gather thousands of people, bullfights and races are held here. The races are also part of the annual Nîmes festival during the summer, and the historic festival is held here in May. Costumed processions, demonstration gladiatorial fights, reconstruction of individual historical events in the arena of a real Roman amphitheater look especially impressive.

* Antique amphitheater of the 1st century AD

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