Discovering and photographing the unknown beauty of Europe
When you hear the word “amphitheater”, you probably think of ancient Rome or Greece and most likely of the Colosseum. But did you know that you can find some of these constructions also in North-Africa? The most famous one is the amphitheater of El Jem in Tunisia, which belongs to the World Heritage List of UNESCO since 1979.
This amphitheater was constructed in the 3rd century and was used most of the time for gladiator fights and chariot races. It was actually one of the biggest amphitheaters of the world – with enough space for about 60.000 spectators – and it has remained intact until the 17th century. Afterwards, the local population started using some of the stones for the construction of the village with the same name. But in general, the building is quite well preserved.
The website of the World Heritage List cites the reasons for the inclusion of the amphitheater:
The town of El Jem itself is not very interesting; most people who come here only visit the amphitheater. And unfortunately, they come in huge numbers. When I visited it with two fellow Belgians, we were completely overrun by busloads of tourists. I found it very difficult to take a picture without any tourists on them.
Nevertheless, I was quite impressed by the building. I had already seen the Colosseum years before, and that was quite an experience, but finding an amphitheater such as this in Tunisia was really something very special!