Arena of Nîmes
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 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.
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.
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.
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 called "Le Festival de Nîmes". It celebrates 20 years with a major event in 2017.
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