El Djem

El Djem Amphitheatre

Travel to El Djem – The Glory of the Roman Empire

El Djem represents the glory of the Roman Empire. The construction of its splendid amphitheatre was an amazing feat, particularly considering there was no stone to build it in the immediate vicinity, as the nearest quarries were more than 30 kilometres away.

El Djem is possibly the best destination for travellers who want to discover and step into the place where Roman gladiators fought their bitter contests. The theatre has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site that attracts a large number of tourists from all over the world.

El Djem, known in antiquity as Thysdrus, is a prosperous Roman settlement in the 2nd century AD. From Roman times, the region of El Jem has gained its prosperity from its vast groves of olive trees. The city is located 63 kilometres from Sousse and 64 kilometres north of Sfax.
After the destruction of Carthage by Rome in 146 BC, Thysdrus was granted the status of a Free City as it had supported Rome in the 3rd Punic War. Later, the city was occupied by the Pompeiian general Considius and resisted Caesar’s attack. At the end of the Civil War, Thysdrus was fined by Caesar for supporting the Pompeiian cause and became a Roman Municipality with all the privileges and freedom associated with this towards the end of the 2nd century AD.

By the early 3rd Century AD, when the amphitheatre was built, Thysdrus rivalled Hadrumetum (modern Sousse) as the second city of Roman North Africa, after Carthage. However, following the abortive revolt that began there in 238 AD, and Gordian I’s suicide in his villa near Carthage, Roman troops loyal to the Emperor Maximinus Thrax destroyed the city that had never really recovered.

Amongst the El Djem attractions there are the Roman Amphitheatre, the third largest colosseum in the Roman world that was mainly used for gladiator shows; El Djem Museum that displays the city’s rich roman past (mosaics, coins, terra cotta tiles, sculptures, etc); and the ancient market city of Thysdrus and the refined suburban villas that once surrounded it. Travellers can also visit the Tunisian coast which is only 40 kilometres from El Djem and nearby towns such as Sousse, Sfax and Monastir.

For activities, visitors to El Djem can attend El Jem International Symphonic Festival held in the Roman colosseum from July to August. The festival features famous orchestras and classical artists.

  • Explore one of the most impressive and dominant monuments of ancient Rome.
  • Witness the scene of those games provided by ancient Rome.
  • Discover the Roman past at El Djem Museum.

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