Imagine gladiators doing battle at the Roman amphitheatre in Saintes in the Charente-Maritime
This area was dominated by the Romans for 40 years and the amphitheatre in Saintes in the Charente-Maritime is a atmospheric reminder of their time here. The amphitheatre, just outside the centre, is one of the oldest and largest in existence in France. Started during the reign of emperor Tiberius and finished under Claudius, it dates back to 40AD. In its heyday it could hold between 12-18,000 people.
Much of the seating area is now grown over with grass but it is an impressive place. It is still possible to imagine the battles that went on here between gladiators and as in Rome's Colosseum, wild animals. Similar in design to that in the Italian capital, at one end of the Saintes amphitheatre is the Sanavivaria doorway through which entered the gladiators and animals ready for battle. If they were lucky enough to survive the content, they exited through the same doorway. However, if they died, they were despatched through the Libitinensis door (named after Libitina, the goddess of death, corpses and funerals).
Today far less bloody performances are given at the amphitheatre – throughout the month of August it plays hosts to concerts during the festival Sites en scène.
October 1 – March 31: every day exceptn Sunday mornings, 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-5pm.
April 1 – May 31: Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm; Sundays 1.30pm-6pm
June 1 – September 30: every day, 10am-8pm
Closed on January 1, May 1, November 1 and December 25.
There are guided visits in French throughout the summer. An audio-guide in English is available.
Children under 10: free
Tel : 05 46 97 73 85