We had a full day in Arles. The city has an extensive Roman history. Roman Arles provided grain for most of the western empire and was one of the major ports for trade and shipbuilding. Under Emperor Constantine it became the capital of Gaul reaching its heights in the 5th century.
Our first stop was the amphitheatre known as Les Arenas. This had been built at the end of the 1st century AD. When it was complete it measured 136 x 107 metres and could hold 21,000 spectators who came to see fights and games. During the middle ages the arena was turned into a fortress. Today it is once again an arena used for bull fights. Although not as complete as Nimes this arena was far more impressive.
Our second stop was the Roman theatre built a century before the amphitheatre. This theatre was located in the heart of the Roman City. Over the centuries the site had been looted for building materials and so there is only really one pair of columns still standing and some of the seating
We then wandered into the town and visited Saint Trophime’s cloisters before walking to the Alyscamps a Roman and medieval graveyard. Until the 12th century, mourners far upstream would launch sumptuous coffins to float down the Rhone for collection at Arles. Today only one of its ally ways survives lined with now empty sarcophagi. An eerie place to finish our visit to Arles.