|2006||Name change||From "Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles" to "Arles, Roman and Romanesque Monuments"|
|2006||Name change||From "Ohrid Region with its Cultural and Historical Aspect and its Natural Environment" to "Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Ohrid Region"|
|1981||Inscribed||Reasons for inscription|Clyde (Malta):
I visited this WHS in May 2012. Although the Roman arena was the highlight of my visit, still I felt Arles had seen better days and now was pretty much neglected. It was quite dirty and the whole place didn't feel very safe in general. Nearby Nimes, is not a WHS but its Roman arena and other remains are better kept and looked after and overall the city has much more to offer.
Date posted: September 2012 Thibault Magnien (France):
The historic site of Arles comprises several building and monuments however the best ones are the Roman theatre and the Arenas that have been well conserved until today. The theatre, conversely from the one in Orange, has lost its stage and its façade a long time ago. Only the tier is still in place. The Arenas still offer a tremendous testimony of the Roman life and compose with the Pont du Gard and the Orange Theatre the greatest Roman remains in France. A renovation campaign has begun several months ago and will allow to maintain the beauty of the site for a long time.
If you have the time, give a look to the Triumphal Arch and the different Roman and Romanesque monuments of the historic center.
Date posted: March 2012 Ian Cade (England):
I had a really nice day in Arles late September 2006. Probably the most famous site is the Roman Amphitheatre, and this is a good site to start off with, it is impressive but not the best example of its kind, perhaps even the one in nearby Nimes is better preserved. It is still in use however and there are regular bull-fights here, in what is the bullfighting capital of France.
One Roman site that is well worth getting to though is les Alychamps, it is a short ten minute walk south from the centre. It was originally a roman cemetery and became one of the earliest Christian sites in France as it was the place for clandestine meetings. The church of St Honorat is at the end of the cemetery and this is included in the Route to Santiago de Compestella WHS of which Arles was one of the four starting points in France so it is quite an important aspect of the inscription also it provides two WHS for the price of one! This was perhaps my favourite part of Arles, the church was empty and had a real eerie feel. Other major roman remains are the Theatre, which is nice but nothing spectacular, the crypts (they were closed when I visited in 2006) the baths which I didn’t get to see.
The Romanesque buildings are dotted around the centre, the major point though is the Cathedral of St Trophime (pictured). It boasts one of the most impressive collections of Romanesque statues anywhere, the impressively restored main entrance and Cloister are fantastic.
It is the combination of the two aspects of Arles’ history that make this such an important site and it is a really lovely city to visit, with lots of nice cafés and plenty to interest fans of Van Gogh who spent a few years here and many points around the town are have been made famous by his paintings.
It is easy to reach, with regular trains from Avignon (20 mins), Marseille (40 mins) among many. You can pay for each site individually or there is a €13 ticket that covers all the sites mentioned above plus a whole host more making it good value.
Arles was a really nice city to visit and the sites, though perhaps not the most impressive of there kind, do combine to make this a worthwhile inclusion on the world heritage list.
Date posted: October 2006 David Berlanda (Italy / Czech Republic):
In our trip to France we have visited the beautiful town of Arles. The most important monument is the amphitheatre, with two storeys and Doric arcades, very well preserved because in the Medieval times it became a fort: from that remain three medieval towers. Beautiful are the remains of the Roman theatre, with the steps, the orchestra and the two high columns; it had three storeys of arches, like you can see from the part of it that is included in the walls. The cryptoportica (subterranean galleries) were used to stabilize the Forum (of which you can see two columns of a temple on the overlooking Forum Square) and as a deposit of grain; it has a horseshoe form and big pillars and arches. Near that are the impressive remains of two rooms (tepidarium and calidarium) with an apse of the Constantine Baths, the Roman exedra, that was part of a basilica, and the Roman walls with the Gate of the Cavalry. The Cathedral of St. Trophime, that was also with Les Alyscamps one of the points of departure of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, is a masterpiece of the Romanesque architecture (only the chapels and the apse are Gothic and the transept is later) and has a stunning portal with statues relieves, columns, pilasters, capitals, cornices, lintels, tympanums and statues of lions. Inside there are three naves, the main with ogival vaulting, the lateral with barrel vaulting, tapestries and a early Christian sarcophagus. The same two types of vaulting has the cloister, with a Romanesque part and a Gothic part and arcades, statues, relieves, double columns, pilasters and capitals; nice is the chapter house, that contains tapestries. In the Roman, early Christian and medieval cemetery Les Alyscamps there is a long avenue bordered by old cypress trees and sarcophaguses, that ends at the church of St. Honorat, that has a nice façade, an octagonal tower and a nave and contains sarcophaguses. Near Arles there is, on a hill, the beautiful Romanesque abbey of Montmajour with the church of Our Lady, that has a nave, a transept and a nice crypt, with a choir, an ambulatory and lateral chapels. The nice cloister has columns, capitals and arches. Near that is the rectangular Abbey tower, a rock cemetery and the churches of St. Peter, with two naves (one of which is dig up in the rock), and of the Holy Cross.
Arles is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen because of the beauty and diversity of the period of construction of its monuments but I was disappointed by the fact that some monuments were closed. It's absolutely worth to be visited, also because has the most beautiful amphitheatre in France, and justifies the inscription, but I think that also other Roman monuments in Provence (like that in Nîmes or Saint-Rémy-de-Provence) could be inscibed alone or together with one, two or all of the WHS of Arles, Orange and Pont du Gard.
Photo: Arles - Amphiteatre
Date posted: February 2006
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