Arena of Nîmes

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Arena of Nîmes
Arenes de Nimes panorama.jpg
Exterior of the Arena of Nîmes
General information
Location France, Nîmes
CompletedAD 70
Aerial view of Nîmes with the arena in the centre

The Arena of Nîmes is a Roman amphitheatre, situated in the French city of Nîmes. Built around AD 70, it was remodelled in 1863 to serve as a bullring. The Arena of Nîmes is the site of two annual bullfights during the Feria de Nîmes, and it is also used for other public events. The arena served as a public event theatre built by the Romans as well as a gladiator fighting arena.

The building encloses an elliptical central space 133 m long by 101 m wide. It is ringed by 34 rows of seats supported by a vaulted construction. It has a capacity of 24,000 spectators and since 1989 has a movable cover and a heating system.[1]


As the Roman Empire fell, the amphitheatre was fortified by the Visigoths and was surrounded by a wall. During the turbulent years that followed the collapse of Visigoth power in Hispania and Septimania, not to mention the Muslim invasion and subsequent conquest by the French kings in the mid eighth century, the viscounts of Nîmes constructed a fortified palace within the amphitheater. In 737 AD, after failing to seize Narbonne, Charles Martel destroyed a number of Septimanian cities on his way north, including Nîmes and its amphitheatre, as asserted in the Continuations of Fredegar. Later a small neighbourhood developed within its confines, complete with one hundred denizens and two chapels. Seven hundred people lived within the amphitheatre during the apex of its service as an enclosed community. The buildings remained in the amphitheatre until the eighteenth century, when the decision was made to convert the amphitheatre into its present form.

The statue of Christian Montcouquiol a.k.a. Nimeño II stands at the entrance, called "Hero".

In 1853, balloonist M. Louis Deschamps was killed during his 120th flight from the Arena of Nîmes. Bad weather had already forced the mayor to call off a parachute performance, but the balloon took off as planned and got caught in the bad weather. Deschamps was thrown from the basket and the balloon went down about half a mile further.[2]

Modern use[edit]

French New Wave filmmaker François Truffaut filmed part of his first film, "Les Mistons", in 1957.

British rock band Dire Straits recorded some of the live video and album, On the Night, in May 1992.

German Industrial Metal group Rammstein recorded the majority of their DVD, Völkerball, on July 23, 2005.[3]

American Heavy Metal band Metallica recorded their DVD, Français Pour Une Nuit, on July 7, 2009.

WWE hosted a house show in 2009 and in 2011.

French electronic group Justice recorded live album Access All Arenas on July 19, 2012.

Depeche Mode performed at the Roman amphitheatre three times: the first one was on August 8, 1986 during their Black Celebration Tour. The second one was on July 20, 2006 during their Touring the Angel. The third one was on July 16, 2013 during their Delta Machine Tour. The 2006 show was recorded for the group's live album project Recording the Angel.

A music festival has taken place every summer since 1997[4] called "Le Festival de Nîmes". It celebrates 20 years with a major event in 2017.

Pamela Anderson in front of the Arena of Nîmes in public campaign against bullfights (July 21, 2017).

The 2017 Vuelta a España included the arena in the route of its opening stage, a 13,7 km (9 mile) team time trial, which was won by the BMC Racing Team.


  1. ^ "Nimes, Gard".
  2. ^ "France" (PDF). The New York Times. 4 December 1853. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  3. ^ "2006 – 17. Nov – Völkerball". Archived from the original on 2012-05-02.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-28. Retrieved 2014-07-29.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°50′06″N 4°21′36″E / 43.83500°N 4.36000°E / 43.83500; 4.36000