Nestled amongst charming French boulevards and cobbled streets is Bordeaux Amphitheatre, also known as Palais Gallien; all that remains of the once vibrant Roman city of Burdigala.
Put under state protection in 1911, Bordeaux’s citizens are now working to preserve this ancient amphitheatre, a snippet of a history long since vanished; it remains as an impressive reminder of the Roman presence which once dominated the area.
Burdigala is thought to have been the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Aquitaina; and was annexed as a Roman province under the emperor Augustus. The importance of the city is reflected in the grandeur of the amphitheatre and indeed the landmark once held around 15,000 spectators.
One of the first examples of an amphitheatre to use a both a stone and wooden structure, Bordeaux Amphitheatre was the sight of a host of ancient spectacles alongside often violent shows designed to engage and entertain both the locals, plebeians and patricians of the Empire alike. Little else is known about the ruins but it is thought that they got their name because in later times people thought the remains resembled a grand palace.
Some historians even speculate that Bordeaux Amphitheatre sits atop older ruins, but until further excavation can occur it remains an unanswered question.
Set in the heart of Bordeaux, destroyed by a fire during the Germanic invasions of the town, the impressive remains of the Palais Gallien are well worth the visit.