Idea #297 – Visiting the historic town of Arles
The name of Arles diverts from Arelate, Celtic word meaning “the place near the pond“, in reference to the marshy grounds, which surrounded the city, established from the Iron Age, in the IVth century before J.C. In 122 BC, Romain settles down in Provence; a few decades later, Arles is probably connected in the Narbonnese Gaule. In 49 BC, the city supports Julius Caesar against Marseille, and is rewarded, by benefiting from the title of Roman colony from 46 BC.
The city knows then the prosperity; during almost three centuries, it gets bigger and develops. After the destructions of the years 250-270, which the historic tradition imputes to Alamans, the urban development starts again only at the beginning of the IVth century, under emperor Constantin. Arles knows vicissitudes during the Middle Ages; after the plague of 1348, Arles sees his prosperity declining and counts no more than 5 000 inhabitants, before appears a slow resumption in the second half of the XVth century.
While undergoing numerous town planning schemes, from the antique to the contemporary period, the city center is geographically fixed from the end of the XIIth century, while keeping a patrimonial wealth which makes it one of the tourist the busiest places of Provence. Several monuments of the roman time remain: the ancient theater, the arenas(bullrings), the Alyscamps, the ramparts, vestiges of thermal baths or still the Roman circus, and the necropolis of Alycamps. In 2008, the oldest bust known for Julius Caesar was discovered to it, during excavations in the Rhône. Because of its important heritage, the city is classified city of art and history and its Roman and Romanic monuments are registered on the list of the world heritage of the humanity since 1981.
Where is it ?
Arles, Bouches du Rhône, France