El Djem Amphitheatre

El Djem Amphitheatre

The walls of the mighty Roman amphitheatre of El Djem dwarf the surrounding modern town. this incredibly well preserved Roman relic is one of Tunisia’s big sightseeing highlights and one of the best examples of amphitheatre architecture left standing in the world today, reminding us of Rome’s once grand grip across north Africa. you can still walk the corridors under the arena, just like the gladiators did or climb up to the top seating tiers and sit staring across the arena, imagining the battles that took place below.

Some history:

El Djem is famous for its amphitheatre or Colosseum it was capable of seating 35,000 spectators. only the Colosseum in Rome (seating about 50,000 spectators) and the ruined theatre of Capua were larger.

The amphitheater at el djem was built by the Romans under proconsul gordian, who was acclaimed Emperor at Thysdrus around 238 and was mainly used for gladiator shows and small-scale chariot races.

Many tourists come here to see what it was like to be inside what was once a place where lions and people met their fate. much of it is crumbled but the essence of it still remains. it is also possible that construction of the amphitheatre was never finished.

 

Until the 17th century, it remained more or less whole. From then on its stones were used for building the nearby village of El Djem and transported to the great mosque in Kairouan. at a tense moment during struggles with the Ottomans, the Turks used cannons to flush rebels out of the amphitheatre.

The ruins of the amphitheatre were declared a world heritage site in 1979. it hosts the annual El Djem International symphony festival.

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