June 26, 2008

Then onto Provencal...

Based out of the city of Arles, this area of France is great to explore for the Roman ruins, the hilltop towns, the white horses of Camargue, the rice paddies, and the FOOD!

Arles is noted for the wealth of its Roman and Romanesque heritage. Arles became Roman after Julius Caesar distributed the land among his veteran legionnaires in 46 B.C. This was the first Golden Age of the city dubbed « Little Rome in Gaul », which became a major religious center during the Early Christian period. The monuments of the city listed as UNESCO world heritage monuments in 1981 include the Roman amphitheatre (the arena) - still used for bullfights:

the Roman theatre, the Cryptoportico (foundations of the Roman Forum), the Roman baths of Constantine:

the remains of the Roman circus, the cloister and portal of St. Trophime’s, and the Alyscamp cemetery. The Musée d’Arles et de la Provence Antique, the Arles archeological museum, is a must-see for three-dimensional re-creations of many of these sites - and being able to see what these places looked like over 2000 years ago bring them to life when looking at dusty ruins! In this museum I especially loved the mosaics that had been taken out of buildings and were on display in a very large scale.

The skilled craftsmen who could create such delicate shading on the human figure with squares of rock were to be admired for lasting through the milleniums.

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