Bordeaux Amphitheatre - History and Facts | History Hit

Bordeaux Amphitheatre

Bordeaux, New Aquitaine, France

These spectacular ruins are all that remain of what was once a grand amphitheatre; the centre of entertainment in a bustling Roman town.

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About Bordeaux Amphitheatre

Nestled amongst charming French boulevards and cobbled streets is Bordeaux Amphitheatre, also known as Palais Gallien; all that remains of the once vibrant Roman city of Burdigala.

Bordeaux Amphitheatre history

Put under state protection in 1911, Bordeaux’s citizens are now working to preserve this ancient amphitheatre, a snippet of a history long since vanished; it remains as an impressive reminder of the Roman presence which once dominated the area.

Burdigala is thought to have been the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Aquitaina; and was annexed as a Roman province under the emperor Augustus. The importance of the city is reflected in the grandeur of the amphitheatre and indeed the landmark once held around 15,000 spectators.

One of the first examples of an amphitheatre to use a both a stone and wooden structure, Bordeaux Amphitheatre was the sight of a host of ancient spectacles alongside often violent shows designed to engage and entertain both the locals, plebeians and patricians of the Empire alike. Little else is known about the ruins but it is thought that they got their name because in later times people thought the remains resembled a grand palace.

Some historians even speculate that Bordeaux Amphitheatre sits atop older ruins, but until further excavation can occur it remains an unanswered question.

The Palais Gallien was a den of crooks and prostitutes in the 17th century… It was also said that witches gathered here, before a mayor transformed the site into a quarry during the revolutionary period.

Bordeaux Amphitheatre today

Set in the heart of Bordeaux, destroyed by a fire during the Germanic invasions of the town, the impressive remains of the Palais Gallien are well worth the visit. 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. A building at the entrance features a 3D reconstitution showing the original layout – one to rival the arenas in Nîmes and Arles.

Getting to Bordeaux Amphitheatre

The address of Bordeaux Amphitheatre is Rue du Docteur Albert Barraud, 33000 Bordeaux. The site is located in the centre of the city, west of the Garonne and roughly a 10 minute walk from Monument aux Girondins.

There are multiple ways of travelling to the site, including by bus (routes 15, 3, 4, 601, and 703) and train (R41 2U). If travelling by car, there are several parking bays nearby.

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