"El-Jem, amphitheater in the middle of olive groves" Top 5 Page for this destination El Jem by JLBG
El Jem Travel Guide: 108 reviews and 406 photos
El-Jem or El-Djem or Al-Jamm is a mid-size town (20,000 inhabitants in 2006) in eastern Tunisia, 160 km south to Tunis, in the middle of a rich agricultural plain, 60 km south to Sousse, 60 km north to Sfax and 40 km west to the coast and Mahdia. El-Jem belongs to the "gouvernorat" (province) of Mahdia.
The amphitheater of Thysdrus, as it was named by the Romans, was built between 230 and 250 after JC under proconsul Gordien when Maximin the Thrace was the emperor in Rome.
This huge arena is a testimony of the wealth of the Roman city of Thysdrus that lived on farming olive trees and trading olive oil. Olive oil was sent to Rome through the nearby harbor of Hadrumete now Sousse. With a population that reached 30,000, Thysdrus was one of the wealthiest cities of the Roman province of Africa.
It is 147.9 m x 122 m and 36 m high, which makes it the 3rd larger amphitheater of the Roman world after the Coliseum in Roma and the amphitheater in Capua. However the amphitheaters in Verona, Carthago and Puzzoles also claim to be the third! The arena is 64.5 m x 38.8 m and it can host an audience of 35 000.
It was inscribed on the Unesco World heritage list in 1979. It is in relatively good condition. It seems that it remained completely untouched until 1695, when it began to be used as a quarry to build the city of El-Jem.
More inland, along the road from El-Jem to Kairouan, the landscape is barren and there are no olive groves anymore. We... more travel advice
During the ancient Romans' time, Thysdrus wealth issued from farming olive trees and trading of olive oil. To day,... more travel advice
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