Are you passionate about history and architecture? You can't miss this French region, one in which elegance surrounds none other than the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world. Just 4 hours by train Barcelona on our AVE (high-speed) France trains, AVE (high-speed) International travelling between Spain and Barcelona, you can travel directly to the heart of Nîmes, where you can discover the remains of the Roman Empire, many of which are in very good condition after so many years.
Built at the end of the first century AD, the 21-metre high façade and 120 arcades of the Arena of Nîmes have survived decade after decade, with a state of preservation that does not go unnoticed to the human eye, making it one of the main attractions of the Roman villa.
It is made up of two levels of sixty overlapping arcades, with an elliptical ring that is 133 metres long and 101 metres wide, surrounded by 34 terraces that stand on a vaulted construction. Currently, it has a capacity for 16,300 spectators and, since 1989, a retractable roof and a heating system.
Nîmes amphitheatre was built in the year 27 BC, in the time of Emperor Augustus, and has an oval shape similar to that of the Roman Colosseum. At the dawn of the Roman Empire, the amphitheatre was fortified by the Visigoths and surrounded by a wall. The viscounts of Nîmes built their palace-fortress inside the amphitheatre during the following years, after the downfall of the Visigoths in Hispania, the Muslim invasion and subsequent takeover by the Frankish Empire. A few years later, a small neighbourhood of about a hundred houses and two chapels arose inside, welcoming more than seven hundred people. These buildings remained in the amphitheatre until the eighteenth century, when they were demolished to return the Arena to its original state.
In Roman times, the Arena of Nîmes was the venue for different shows organised to amuse the inhabitants of Nîmes and neighbouring towns. These included gladiatorial combats and hunting games – animals were released into the arena and men fought them to death. The venue had a capacity for about 24,000 spectators.
Las Arena was classified as a historical monument in 1840, but is still a place of leisure and entertainment, its initial design purpose. Numerous shows are organised each year, which attract spectators from all over the region. Since 1863 and during the famous Pentecost and harvest festivities, they hold bullfights, which are much appreciated by connoisseurs. During the summer, the arena vibrates to the rhythm of its concerts. Finally, the city has been celebrating the Great Roman Games since 2010 as a means to continue with its exciting legacy. For two days, historical performances, shows and parades are organised, where period-correct clothing is worn.
The spectacular views of the Arena's façade and inner galleries used to access the terraces are not the only thing that will leave you speechless. During the summer, the Arena of Nîmes hosts musical concerts, many of which have been recorded and published for their huge success.
Book your ticket for an AVE (high-speed) International train to Nîmes now, don't miss this unique and cultural opportunity!
If, in addition to travelling to Nîmes, you are interested in following own your route, we invite you to visit other equally impressive cities connected by our Alta Velocidad (high-speed) trains travelling between Spain and France, thanks to the many combinations of our destinations: from Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Montpellier, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence or Lyon; always from city centre to city centre.
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