About Arenes de Lutece
Arenes de Lutece or “Lutetia Arena” in Paris is one of the most important and rare remnants of the Gallo-Roman settlement of Lutetia. Lutetia or ‘Lutece’ was a settlement located on the site of what is now Paris. Originating in pre-Roman Gaul it then became a Roman city.
Arenes de Lutece history
Originally built in the first to second century AD, Arenes de Lutece was a vast amphitheatre able to seat between 10,000 and 15,000 spectators. In 280 AD, Arenes de Lutece was sacked, leaving few remains. The arena is the oldest historic monument built in Paris, and is the third largest Roman coliseum in France.
Once, Roman gladiators entertained crowds by fighting wild animals in the amphitheatre’s centre, with spectators filling the tiered seating areas rising up along the sloped hillsides. A 135-foot long stage across one end accommodated theatrical productions and orators. A circus also took place here in Roman times, there are several ground-level spaces where the Romans kept caged animals.
Rediscovered during building works carried out in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Arenes de Lutece was subject to a great deal of renovation, sadly to the extent that much of what can be seen today – such as the tiered seating – is not original. Having said this, it is definitely worth seeing if you are interested in Roman Gaul. Some of the Roman stage settings are still visible and one does get a good sense of what the theatre would have looked like.
Arenes de Lutece today
Today, Arenes de Lutece is more likely to be the site of skateboarding competitions and picnics rather than gladiator matches. The coliseum now lies at the centre of a small park, with grassy slopes, flowering plants, and lots of trees.
Getting to Arenes de Lutece
The arena is in the Place Emile Mâle, off the Rue Monge. The nearest metro stop is Place Monge and buses 47, 67 and 89 pass nearby.
The Arènes de Lutèce is a public park, accessible by entrances on three sides. One is a passageway through the building at 47, rue Monge; the second is a long open corridor accessible from rue de Navarre through a gate; the third is through the Square Capitan from its entrance at 10, rue des Arènes.
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