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Arènes de Lutèce

Arenas of Lutetia

Arènes de Lutèce, Paris

ABOVE: The lions and gladiators are gone, but much of the 15,000-person amphitheatre remains nearly 2,000 years after the Arènes de Lutèce were built.

Along with the Gallo-Roman Baths at the Musée National du Moyen-Age in the Hôtel Cluny, the Arènes de Lutèce or Arenas of Lutetia are among the oldest tourist attractions in Paris.

The Roman amphitheatre, which dates back to the 1st Century A.D., was once the site of Gladiator-style combat and other Roman entertainments, with seating for an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 spectators and animal cages beneath the stands.

After the fall of Lutetia in 280 A.D., the amphitheatre became a ruin and eventually was filled in as medieval Paris grew.

In the 1860s, the arena was discovered during excavation for the Rue Monge (now a major thoroughfare in the 5th arrondissement), and the dug-up ruins were turned into a public square in 1896.

Today, the Arènes de Lutèce form the core of a public park that neighborhood residents use for boules, bouncing footballs off the apartment buildings behind the arena, and other urban recreation.

When and how to visit:

The park is open daily from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. during winter and until 9 p.m. in summer. Admission is free.

Of the three entrances, the easiest one to find is at 47 rue Monge, where an arched passageway leads from the sidewalk. (See photo below.)

If you're coming by Métro, the nearest stops are Cardinal Lemoine (Line 10), Jussieu (Lines 7 and 10), and Place Monge (Line 7).

More photos:

Arènes de Lutèce photo

The Arènes de Lutèce are hidden from the street by apartment houses and park walls.

Photo of animal or gladiator cage

Iron bars cover cages that once held wild animals or gladiators.

rue Monge entrance photo

A passageway at 47 rue Monge is one of three entrances to the amphitheatre, which is now a city park.

Top photo copyright © Paris Tourist Office. Photographer: Marc Bertrand.

About the author:

Durant Imboden photo.Durant Imboden is a professional travel writer, book author, and editor who focuses on European cities and transportation.

After 4-1/2 years of covering European travel topics for About.com, Durant and Cheryl Imboden co-founded Europe for Visitors (including Paris for Visitors) in 2001. The site has earned "Best of the Web" honors from Forbes and The Washington Post.

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