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Arles Hotels

Arles Hotels France

 

Arles is a major town on the tourist circuit, its fame sealed by the extraordinarily well-preserved Roman arena, Les Arènes, at the city's heart, and backed by an impressive variety of other stones and monuments, both Roman and medieval. It was the key city of the region in Roman times, then, with Aix, main base of the counts of Provence before unification with France. For centuries it was Marseille's only rival, profiting from the inland trade route up the Rhône whenever the enemies of France were blocking Marseille's port. Arles declined when the railway put an end to this advantage, and it was an inward-looking depressed town that Van Gogh came to in the late nineteenth century. Today it's a staid and conservative place, but comes to life for the Saturday market, which brings in throngs of farmers from the surrounding countryside, and during the various festivals of tauromachie between Easter and All Saints, when the town's frenzy for bulls rivals that of neighbouring Nîmes.

In the southeastern section of Arles there is a gentle street called "The Alyscamps", where modern Arlesienne women go for leisurely strolls at dusk. But this avenue is also the last vestige of one of the most important cemeteries of Antiquity. Legend says that Saint Trophime was buried at the Alyscamps, and that his tomb was the "theatre of miracles". Because of this legend, people of every social station wanted to be buried in Arles, thinking it would guarantee a place for them in heaven. With money tucked into barrels, at points upstream on the Rhone, people let their dead loved ones float with the current to Arles. Once in Arles, at the bridge of Trinquetaille, Arlesiens would take the money from inside the barrels as the "Right of Mortelage", and bury the dead in this famous cemetery.

Arles Tourist Attractions

Les Arènes

Les Arènes could hold twenty-six thousand people at one time. The original amphitheatre was built in AD 70-80. Three square towers were added to the building in the 12th century. During the medieval ages, it was filled with tunnels, shops and houses. Entrance to the site is from the north.

Roman Theatre Antique

The Roman Theatre Antique has a seating capacity of ten to fifteen thousand spectators. It is considered one of the earliest freestanding theatres with radiating walls and galleries. Two surviving columns, nicknamed deux veuves (two widows), suggest the architectural beauty that preceded the theatre's function during the Dark Ages as a rock quarry. The theatre now accommodates only a few hundred and hosts Arle's Music and Drama Festival every year in July.

Les Alyscamps

Les Alyscamps (mythical burial ground) is a thoroughfare to the southeast of the town flanked on either side by tombs that once were breathtakingly detailed. Museéd' Art Chrétien now houses most of the important finds from the site.

Roman Circus

Located in the south-west of central Arles is the Roman Circus, largest in the Roman world and big enough to race six chariots at one point of time.

Museums

Some of the museums in the city are Musée de l'Arles Antiques, Musée Calvet, and Musée Lapidaire, containing most of the remains of historic sites of Arles.

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