El Djem Amphitheatre
Perhaps one of the most famous of Tunisia’s ancient ruins and relics is the magnificent amphitheatre that dominates El Djem. This colossal Roman structure draws hundreds of tourists to its grounds to imagine what it would have felt like to have either been in the audience or centre stage back in the day.
Built around the year 238, it is the third largest amphitheatre in the world. The impressive arena was capable of seating 35,000 spectators who would gather to watch small chariot races or people and wild animals meet their grizzly fate in a gladiator show.
Those days are long gone and all that remains is a partly crumbled reminder of what once was. But this alone is impressive enough and certainly well worth a visit. When you’re there, be sure to check out the basement, where all the animals would once have been caged before their fights.
Some of the stones that made up the amphitheatre were taken and used to build the nearby village of El Djem. Others were also transported to the Great Mosque at Kairouan. Therefore, in order to preserve the remainder of the structure, it was enlisted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.