Escorted Rail Tours to Arles
A classical city along the Rhône
Boasting a beautifully-preserved historic centre, the city of
Arles is home to one of Europe's best collections of Roman ruins -
which have been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status. Initially a
Celtic city colonised by the Greeks, Arles became Roman after
Julius Caesar distributed the land among some of his most faithful
soldiers in 46 BC. This was the first golden age of the city, which
then came to be known as "Little Rome in Gaul".
Having become a major religious centre during the early
Christian period, the sought-after city was passed to the Kingdom
of Burgundy in the 9th century. In 1032 it passed to the Holy Roman
Empire, before becoming a part of France in 1481. Much of Arles
city centre's street plan dates from about this time, as does a
significant amount of the surviving architecture. Arles is still
known as a major port on the Rhône, though nowadays visitors flock
to the area to see the town's impressive Roman remains.
Among the many highlights celebrating Arles' rich history
is the mighty Roman Arena, which would have seated about 20,000
people. It was partly converted into a castle in the Middle Ages
but is still remarkably intact.
The Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in
Arles in 1888-1889 and produced over 300 paintings and drawings
during his time here. Today the Van Gogh Foundation is situated
opposite the vast arena.