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Remains of the Roman amphitheatre in Bordeaux.

Le Palais Gallien.

Period: Gallo-Roman
Site: Amphitheatre

Today only a relatively small portion remains of what was once quite a large Roman amphitheatre. Typically elliptical in shape, the amphitheatre measured about 70 metres by about 47 metres when it was complete, and is thought to have had a seating capacity of at least 17,000 people. The arena was built in the 3rd century AD when Bordeaux, then known as Burdigala, was the capital of the Roman province of Aquitaine. Historical sources indicate that it was probably built to mark the visit to Aquitaine by the Emperor Lucius Septimius Bassianus, commonly known as Caracalla.

The ruins are known locally as ‘Le Palais Gallien’ – and there are two suggested reasons for this. One is that the arena was built for Emperor Gallienus, who reigned with his father between 253 and 260, and then on his own between 260 and 268 AD. The architectural style and certain artefcats recovered from recent excavations indicates the arena was built before Gallienus’s reign. There are Medieval sources that seems to suggest that the ruins are the remains of a palace built by Charlemagne for his wife Galiene. There is, however, no doubt whatsoever that these are the remains of a Roman amphitheatre.

Facilities & Visiting Le Palais Gallien:

open-year-round 24-hours onsite-information wheelchair-accessible photographs-allowed parking

Where is the Roman Amphitheatre in Bordeaux?

Although only a part of the amphitheatre still stands today, you can get an idea of how big it once was on the Google map below. Looking at the satellite version of the map, you will clearly see the standing remains of the amphitheatre. Also, you can then trace the standing arc to the right and follow the shape of the arc as it is has been preserved in the alignment of the roofs of the buildings that were built up against the amphitheatre, and then those that were built after those portions were destroyed.

Also, drag the yellow icon of the human figure on to the map and place it on the blue lines – particularly the one that ends at the top of Rue du Colisée (next to the orange marker). You will get a good ‘street view’ of the ruins.


Rue du Colisée goes straight into the middle of what was the oval arena. The amphitheatre is signposted as ‘Le Palais Gallien’.

Further Information:

Photograph © Daniel Milner via Wikipedia

 

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