Roman El Jem

By | Category: Photorial, Travel destinations

El Jem as part of the new advertising campaign

In the last few weeks you will have seen television adverts for Tunisia. Popular with Britons for years, tourism stalled after the revolution but now it is on the increase again.

near the entrance

According to Wahida Jaiet who is director of the Tunisian National Tourist Board in London, there has been a 20% increase in the number of bookings to the country in the first three months of 2013.
Many will head to the resorts of Djerba, Hammamet, Monastir and Sousse. Some will head south to the desert and Tozeur or Douz. Wherever they go, at some stage visitors will hear of excursions to El Jem. The small town in the east of Tunisia is home to one of the largest surviving Roman amphiteatres in the world. Built nearly 1,800 years ago, it is 149 metres long and 124 wide it can seat over 30,000 people whereas Rome could seat 43,000. Spectators sat in marble tiers and where they sat depended on their rank.

Which tier would you sit on?

There are signs throughout the remaining structure and all are written in Arabic, English and French. Surrounding the amphitheatre are street sellers and shops who will sell you all and sundry. Remember to bargain. A jar of saffron can be bought for as little as a couple of dinars if you stand your ground and there aren’t many other visitors around.
Surprisingly it is only in the last 400 years years that this UNESCO World Heritage site has begun to deteriorate.

the shopkeepers and hawkers who will sell you anything

For centuries it stood as originally built unharmed apart from the effects of time. Then stones were used for other buildings, it was attacked by the Turks to flush out their opponents and it suffered some damage in WWII. But a lot remains and more may be found. That helped the producers of Life of Brian to film many of the scenes from that film here. Hardly any archaeological work has been done recently yet it is known that this was an important area for a short space of time int he third century. Over the years ahead it could be that much more will be fund to attract the visitor

For more information on Tunisia, click here.

What remains towers over the arena

the outer circle

a passageway where gladiators will have walked

largely well-preserved, you can walk though most parts

what else might be found?

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