Amphitheatre of El Jem

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Amphitheatre of El Jem
The Roman Amphitheatre at el-Djem (IX) (5617770198).jpg
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Location Tunisia Edit this on Wikidata
Criteria iv, vi[1]
Reference 38
Coordinates 35°17′47″N 10°42′25″E / 35.2964°N 10.7069°E / 35.2964; 10.7069
Inscription 1979 (3rd Session)
Amphitheatre of El Jem is located in Tunisia
Amphitheatre of El Jem
Location of Amphitheatre of El Jem

Amphitheatre of El Jem is an oval amphitheatre in the city of El Djem, Tunisia. It is listed by UNESCO since 1979 as a World Heritage Site.[2]


The amphitheatre was built around 238 AD, when the modern Tunisia belonged to the Roman province of Africa, in the city of Thysdrus, currently a suburb of El Djem. It is one of the best preserved Roman ruins in the world, and is unique in Africa. As other amphitheatres in the Roman Empire, it was built for spectator events, and it is one of the biggest amphitheatres in the world. The estimated capacity is 35,000, and the sizes of the big and the small axes are respectively 148 metres (486 ft) and 122 metres (400 ft). The amphitheatre is built of stone blocks, located on a flat ground, and is exceptionally well conserved.[2]

The amphitheatre of El Jem is the third amphitheatre built on the same place. The belief is that it was constructed by the local proconsul Gordian, who became the emperor as Gordian III. In the Middle Ages, it served as a fortress, and the population sought here shelter during the attacks of Vandals in 430 and Arabs in 647. In 1695, during the Revolutions of Tunis, Mohamed Bey El Mouradi made an opening in one of the walls to stop the resistance of the followers of his brother Ali Bey al-Muradi who gathered inside the amphitheater.[3] It is believed that the amphiteatre was used as a salpetre manufacture in the end of the 18th and in the 19th century. Around 1850, the breach in the wall was enlarged by Ahmad I ibn Mustafa to approximately 30 metres (98 ft). In the second half of the 19th century, the structure was used for shops, dwellings, and grain storage.[4] It was featured in films such as Monty Python's Life of Brian and Gladiator.



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Amphitheatre of El Jem". UNESCO. Retrieved 5 May 2016. 
  3. ^ Nossov, Konstantin (2011). Gladiator: The Complete Guide to Ancient Rome's Bloody Fighters. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 129–130. ISBN 9780762777334. 
  4. ^ Bomgardner, David L. (2013). The Story of the Roman Amphitheatre. Routledge. pp. 150–151. ISBN 9781134707393. 

Coordinates: 35°17′47″N 10°42′25″E / 35.2964°N 10.7069°E / 35.2964; 10.7069