The Roman amphitheatre (or arena) in Nîmes is the best-conserved of the Roman world. It was used for hunting wild animals and for gladiator combats from the end of the first century AD onwards. Many events are held there today.
The amphitheatre is 133 m long and 101 m wide. The outer facade is 21 metres high, made up of two levels of arcades and divided into 60 spans. Numerous staircases and five circular galleries provide optimum circulation.
Divided according to their social rank among the 34 tiers of seats, more than 23,000 Gallo-Romans watched combats between gladiators or animals.
The monument was turned into a fortress in the Middle Ages, forming a refuge for the population in case of danger. The inner part was later filled by private houses until the nineteenth century. In 1809, houses, chapels and the chateau of the viscounts of Nîmes were demolished to give the monument its initial appearance.
Today, the amphitheatre forms a fine venue for many occasions—bullfights, congresses, concerts and sports events.