The Saintes Roman amphitheater in the department of Charente-Maritime, was built in the first century AD. Its construction began during the reign of Emperor Tiberius (14-37) and ended by that of Claude (41-54).
The city then known as Mediolanum Santonum was the capital of Gallia Aquitania.
Accommodating from 12 to 15,000 spectators attend sometimes bloody and violent shows, it was made by taking advantage of the site of the relief. The tiers are based on the slopes of a valley side and is on an embankment in the west.
The arena long 66 m wide and 39 m was surrounded by a stone block wall and two large side doors allowed to communicate with the outside. One of them was reserved for victors gladiators: it was called "the door of the living".
Although used as a quarry in the Middle Ages, the amphitheater is one of the best preserved of the ancient Roman province. The arena, foundations and some steps have been cleared and partly restored in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These remains give a fairly accurate picture of what was the vast edifice in antiquity.
Historical Monument in 1840, it now hosts shows and concerts.
Open daily from May to September, from Tuesday to Sunday from October to March. Closed on 1 January, 1 May, 1 November and 25 December. Free or guided visit (fee). educational booklet available for families with children. Price: 4 euros (7 euros for a guided tour). Information +33 5 46 97 73 85.