Even from a distance, a monumental amphitheatre dominates the Tunisian city of El Djem, the ancient Punic settlement of Thysdrus in the heart of the later Byzantine Empire.
Apart from those in Rome and Verona, this huge stone amphitheatre is the largest of its kind and a masterpiece of ancient building technique. Due to the region’s climate, the impressive construction has retained its original color and the gigantic oval structure could accommodate 35,000 spectators.
Thysdrus was one of the largest cities in ancient Africa and during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC, was also one of the most prosperous in the Roman Empire. The cultivation of olives and the production of olive oil for Rome were the reasons for the city’s prosperity that continued to flourish for many centuries.
Although the amphitheatre has been used extensively as a stone quarry, it is better preserved than the Coliseum of Rome and in near-perfect condition.
The wealth of the city has long since gone but its colossal heritage has been preserved forever… the fascinating amphitheatre of... El Djem!
Global Treasures - History's Most Protected Monuments - Heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live today, and what we pass on to future generations. Our cultural and natural heritage are both irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration. Places as unique and diverse as the wilds of East Africa's Serengeti, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the Baroque cathedrals of Latin America make up our world's heritage. Join us as we explore one of these protected monuments.