The Other Coliseum

In El Jem, Tunisia, is one of the world's most prominent ancient Roman archaeological sites: a huge amphitheater almost as large as Rome's Coliseum, and astonishingly well-preserved

  • The Other Coliseum
  • The Other Coliseum
  • The Other Coliseum
  • The Other Coliseum

Once upon a time there was Thysdrus, the major Roman city in Africa after Carthage, ruled by proconsul Gordian I and sitting on the current location of El Jem,Tunisia. Around the year 238, a huge amphitheater saw the light in town, probably on request of Gordian himself, who was apparently an ethusiast of the then popular arena games.
A Unesco World Heritage site since 1979, this oval amphitheater is 148 meters long and 122 meters wide, and it has a perimeter of 427 meters; in other words, it is almost as large as Rome's Coliseum, and definitely larger than the famous Roman amphitheater in Verona.
Its three floors of bulky arcades built from brittle stone which was carried from a cave 30 miles away are still standing, as a testimony to a glorious era that saw gladiators battle within its walls, in front of an audience of 35,000 people.
But the city soon fell into decline, and was extensivley damaged by cannonballs around the 13th century, until it turned into a simple village in the shade of these monumental ruins.
Today, El Jem is a major cultural destination (not too far from the seaside, as well) where, besides the amphitheater, you can visit the ruins of 30 Roman villas boasting beautiful mosaic floors and a remarkable museum displaying more fine mosaics, sculptural fragments, and sarcophaguses. 

Author : The Slowear Journal


Tunisia  | amphitheater  | Roman ruins  | Ancient Rome  | El Jem  | Coliseum  |

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