At the end of the first century A.D. the Romans constructed the Arénes de Lutece on the slopes of Mount Sainte-Geneviève near Lutèce, the ancient village of the Parisi people after whom the city of Paris was named. The Romans built the amphitheatre to house circuses, sporting events and theatrical productions by contemporary playwrights such as Aristophenes and Plautus. Seventeen thousand spectators once attended spectacles in the amphitheatre including gladiator fights. You can still see the cages where the animals were kept under the stands. Bleachers surrounded more than half the arena’s circumference. Slaves, the poor, and women sat in the upper bleachers. Roman dignitaries sat in the lower seats.
Today the Arènes de Lutèce is part of every day Parisian life. You can even see Parisians playing football, pétanque or other games in the middle of the ruined arena, just like their Roman ancestors did centuries ago. The Arènes de Lutèce is a public park, accessible by a passageway through the building at 47, rue Monge. Over the entrance is a big cement gladiator helmet that harks back to an earlier time. A visit to the Arènes de Lutèce makes you feel like you’ve been transported back into another era
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