In September 2017 we took advantage of a long weekend to visit the amazing city of Harness and the natural park of the Camargue. Harness It is a city with an incredible cultural heritage included in UNESCO since 1981 and I can assure you that three days They become short to discover it completely. In this little guide we explain how to organize a Getaway to Arles and the Camargue.
The most comfortable way is in AVE-TGV. Arles has no high-speed train station, but you can travel to the nearby train station Nimes and there take a commuter train (25 minutes). From Barcelona to Nimes it takes about three hours and a half by high-speed train. Renfe-SNFC Get offers punctually in which you can get to travel for € 50 round trip, so we recommend that you subscribe to their newsletter.
In Arles we stayed all three nights in the downtown Spa hotel Calendal. A nice hotel with Provencal airs located just in front of the Roman amphitheater. The hotel serves a very complete buffet breakfast and also has a spa for customer use. It is the perfect location to explore the city of Arles.
You know that we are passionate about ancient history, so for us the main attraction of the visit to Arles was to know the incredible heritage of the Roman era that preserves the city.
It is one of the indisputable emblems of the city of Arles. It was built in 90 BC. and could host up to 20,000 spectators. Currently, the Roman amphitheater It is still used at city parties to celebrate bullfights and festivals. In addition, demonstrations of July and August are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays fighting of gladiators. Also at the end of August, the Roman amphitheater celebrates the Arelate: the Roman days of Arles. A festival that revives ancient Arles in a didactic and historically rigorous way. During the conference we can do theatrical visits, educational reconstructions, military demonstrations, etc.
Arles old theater
He Roman theatre de Arles was built at the end of the 1st century B.C. and could accommodate up to 10,000 spectators. It consisted of 33 tiers, of which many parts are not preserved today and had a diameter of 102 meters. There are only two columns standing in the stage area that remind us of how it should have been at its peak. During the Arelate festival in the Roman theater the Peplum Film Festival is celebrated.
In the basement of the Roman forum are these galleries created using the foundations of the forum, which in ancient times were used as a food store and even architectural elements. It is one of the most interesting visits of Arles and is accessed from the Hotel du Ville.
Little remains of the ancient Roman forum, only a couple of Corinthian-style columns of the ancient temple. At present, the forum square is a beautiful square full of restaurants, including the one that inspired Van Gogh to paint his work «Nuit coffee».
Arles Antique Museum
One of the most amazing things about Arles is that every summer you still find archaeological remains from the Roman era in the excavations that take place on the banks of the Rhone. In 1995, this museum was opened to house the exceptional collections from the city and it is very worth spending at least three hours. Among the pieces we can see we highlight the ship, the mosaics, the replica of the Venus of Arles and the collection of sarcophagi Romans, the most important in the world.
Termas of Constantine
It is believed that this hot springs built in the s. IV received his name by the son of Emperor Constantine who had built his residence in Arles. In their time they occupied 8,000 square meters and consisted of all kinds of equipment such as two hot water pools, cold water pools, sauna and gym.
This door was the main entrance during Roman times. The door measured 35 meters and was flanked by two semicircular towers. Augusto's door is on Boulevard Emile-Combes, near Place de la Redoute.
On the outskirts of the Roman city we find this holy field, full of sarcophagi that line the Aurelia road that gave access to the city. This necropolis was used for 1500 years and during Roman times it was so popular and it was so precious to bury here, that high-ranking Romans from all over Europe wanted to rest here forever. Thanks to that, the city's sarcophagus collection is so important.
Van Gogh spent just over a year in Arles, but the city inspired the artist in such a way that many of the most important works were created in the workshop he kept here. In the city we can take a short tour to find those places, which are still preserved today:
In the square where the forum was built in Roman times we can see the restaurant that inspired the work «Café de Nuit» from Van Gogh.
This hospital, built in the 16th century, is where Van Gogh was admitted and during his stay he immortalized the inner garden of the hospital in the painting «Le jardin de la Maison de Santé à Arles».