One of the best-preserved Roman monuments in France, the
amphitheatre in Nimes, also known as the Arena of Nimes, was recently host to a
lively celebration of Roman life, the Great Roman Games.
Held on April 23 and 24, this was the seventh edition of the
event, attracting tens of thousands of spectators with an all-out extravaganza
of costumes, performances and battle re-enactments. Over 500 volunteers from
all over Europe came together to put on the once-in-a-lifetime show, with over
20,000 spectators at a time lining the benches of the amphitheatre to watch the
classical scenes unfold before their eyes.
This year’s event was themed around Cleopatra, the last
queen of Ancient Egypt, who ruled between 51 and 30BC. Renowned for her beauty,
she famously had a love affair with Julius Caesar, resulting in a son being
born. She also fought in the naval battle of Actium, alongside her lover, the
general Mark Anthony, who was in contest for the Roman succession. Upon their
rival Octavian’s victory, the pair fled and committed suicide, leading to the
imposition of Roman rule in Egypt. Many of these famous scenes from her life
were acted out for the crowds, with the show also including its fair share of
gladiator fights and chariot races – two of Ancient Rome’s most famous
The action also continued outside of the amphitheatre, with
actors parading through the city centre in Roman costume, and demonstrations of
military techniques, such as the tortoise formation, where soldiers placed
their shields together to form a protective wall.
Nimes is regarded as the ‘Rome of France’, as it is home to
some of the world’s best preserved Roman monuments. Located in Languedoc in the
south of France, the city also boasts a wealth of other monuments from the era,
including the Tour Magne, Maison Carree, a ruined tower and gardens built around
the remains of a Roman baths, making it a fascinating city to explore during
your stay at our holiday cottages in France.
Staudt, available under Creative Commons