"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.

  • Last visit to El Jem: Apr 2002
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (10)

Comments (16)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Jan 31, 2015 at 10:48 AM

    Great tips

  • Dec 8, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    i would just love to visit el jem, and tunisia in general, to see some of the amazing roman ruins. they look so well preserved!

  • pure1942's Profile Photo
    Jun 25, 2009 at 2:47 PM

    Nice page and pics Jean. Was very young during our holiday to Tunisia and I don't remember all the things we saw on the trip but I clearly remember the magnificent amphitheatre. Thanks for bringing back some memories. Brian

  • Jan 19, 2009 at 3:49 AM

    Another nice page of you Jean

  • KiKitC's Profile Photo
    Jun 21, 2007 at 3:16 AM

    Amazing...how much got left behind from the Romans...those olive fields are impressive...and the ploughing camel makes it feel so alien...wow

  • barryg23's Profile Photo
    Jun 19, 2007 at 10:45 AM

    That view from the south is great. The view from the Sousse road was good but this one looks better:)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Jun 16, 2007 at 3:52 PM

    Hi, Can certainly see how impressive the ampitheatre is and was - like the photos too of the camel out ploughing!youve had a good tour of Tunisia by the look of it!Hope to get back sometime.

  • acemj's Profile Photo
    May 22, 2007 at 7:16 PM

    It's great to see such an interesting place with so few tourists running around!

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Apr 30, 2007 at 4:07 AM

    The amphitheatre looks very impressive, esp. nice without so many tourists around.

  • sachara's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2007 at 12:18 AM

    Jean-Louis, great pictures of the arena. We visited el Jem in may in the morning I think. Also at a moment there were not many visitors around. Nice shots and information of the rural area.


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