Saturday, March 30, 2019 at 10.08am
The old Roman Arena in Arles was built 2000 years ago to host battles between man and beast to keep the locals entertained.
Back when the Romans occupied Provence there would be day-long programs here starting with battles between wild animals, then wild animals and prisoners of war, and next wild animals and hunters.
The animals were not exotic creatures imported from Africa but wildlife that lived in the woods around the settlement including bears, bulls, wolves and even horses.
Then in the afternoon, when the audience was warmed up, the gladiators would take to the arena.
After the Romans departed these activities were outlawed so the amphitheatre was no longer needed for its original purpose and, with the Visigoths were on the prowl, it became a fortified neighbourhood with 200 houses squeezed inside the walls.
Today it’s back in the entertainment business with regular bullfighting held here, but not the Spanish style where the beasts are killed.
It’s the more politically-correct version popular in Provence with the men in the arena removing coloured ribbons from the bull’s horns and the animals go back to the farm at the end of the action.