Colliseo Saintes – Ancient Roman Coliseum

Part of the visit to Saintes is to tour the ruins of the Roman Coliseum on the West bank of the River. It is a half hour walk up the hill to the area where you can also visit the Basilique Saint Eutrope de Saintes. The day began sunny and walking up the hill was hot work in the full sun. Later the sky clouded over and the visit to the coliseum was happily somewhat cooler.

The Coliseum at Saintes is one of the best preserved Roman Ruins in France so it is well worth the visit. There is a 3 Euro charge to enter, not a lot of money and there were a few visitors the day we were there but not crowded so it was perfect to explore the site.

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Roman ruins are usually exposed so visiting when there are no clouds can be very hot. Our day was cloudy so the visit was comfortable and we were able to linger and look at everything.
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The sand floor, “harena” in Latin, is the source of the popular name (arena) for these spaces. You could almost hear the roar of the crowd below. The tower beyond is the tower of the Basilica of St. Eutrope, a stop on the Camino of St Jacques.
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One of the passages from the stands demonstrates the size of the construction. Once the population determined that the Romans were never returning, the arena became a stone quarry for the buildings in the town below.
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Headed down the steps to the good seats at the bottom
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The main arched entrance portal from the town still remains
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The combatants in the arena must have looked longingly toward this exit as they battled for money or freedom with the hope they might one day walk out this way as a Roman Citizen.

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