Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls

Lyon, Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, France

Peta Stamper

28 Jun 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls

The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls, translated as ‘Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules’, was an early 1st century amphitheatre in Lyon, France. Dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus, the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was a monument to the Sanctuary of the Three Gauls and since 1961 has been recognised as a monument historique.

Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls history

Lyon was once the Roman city of Lugdunum. Whilst the city was founded in approximately 44 BC, the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls is thought to have been constructed in around 19 AD and financed by an old Gallic family with Roman citizenship. The reference to the ‘Three Gauls’ relates to Gaul’s main provinces at the time – Belgica, Aquitania and Lugdunensis – of which Lugdunum was the capital.

While the theatre had a relatively small capacity of 1,800, it hosted games accompanying the imperial cult and was a meeting place for representatives of the 60 Gallic tribes. In the 2nd century AD, it is thought that several Christians were martyred at the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls in the course of the campaign of persecution against Christians at the time.

The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was rediscovered in the 16th century, then comprising of several arches and a hollow arena. However, expansion of Lyon in the 19th century led to the destruction of the southern half and what remained by the 1970s was made part of the Jardin des Plantes and opened for visitors.

Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls today

Today, only a fraction of the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls remains, the rest seemingly swallowed up by modern roads and buildings which surround it. What does remain includes a section of its walls, its northern gate and some of its foundations, which are open for the public to visit at their own leisure.

Getting to the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls

Nestled within the Jardin des Plantes, the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls is easily found on foot within ancient Lyon. Otherwise, the S6 bus stops at the Jardin or S12 bus stops along the Rue Burdeau, just 3 minutes walk from the amphitheatre.

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