As a big admirer of Vincent van Gogh, I could not pass up a road trip to Arles where Vincent produced a massive amount of fantastic work. According to the Vincent van Gogh Foundation, he lived here for 444 days and produced over 200 paintings, over 100 drawings and watercolors, and wrote some 200 letters. This is also where he cut off his left ear with a razor while suffering from severe depression. Another account says his artist friend Gauguin came to stay with him in Arles and the two men worked together for almost two months. However, tensions developed and on December 23, in a fit of dementia or possibly a violent argument, Van Gogh threatened his friend with a knife before turning it on himself and mutilating his ear lobe. After which he could later recall nothing about the event.
I visited Arles twice and found this gem steeped in Roman history, quiet and intriguing. The very narrow streets however challenged my Volvo driving skills to the max. The imposing Roman Amphitheatre in the middle of town is circled by a plethora of cafes, brasseries and outdoor vendors selling colorful wares. The amphitheater was constructed in 90 AD with over 120 arches and for four centuries with the site of bloody gladiator battles, chariot races and theater performances. Our large event arenas in the USA don’t seem to last longer than a few decades before being demolished for a new and more spectacular version.
Last weekend's One Clue Mystery photo featured a photo of the amphitheater. It was recognized by Professor Abe -- congratulations!
After the fall of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the amphitheater was converted into a fortress, encircling houses and chapels. Today, the amphitheater is used for traditional bullfighting, and plays and concerts are also held here. The Arles Amphitheatre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.