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Africa's Hidden Gem

22 Sep 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Can you spot the difference? 

 

The image on the left is actually the Roman Amphitheater of Thysdrus located in Tunisia, and the image on the right is the Colosseum located in Rome, however the similarities are uncanny! We were genuinely amazed when we found out about Africa's version of the Colosseum and thought that we would share some fun facts about the relatively unknown landmark. 

 

El Djem or Thysdrus is a town in Mahdia Governorate, Tunisia, population 21,576 (2014 census). It is home to some of the most impressive Roman remains in all of Africa, like the world-famous "Roman amphitheater of Thysdrus".

This ancient Amphitheater often mistaken as the Tunisian Colosseum was capable of seating 35000 people, it’s said to be the 3rd largest roman amphitheater ever built and the 2nd largest still standing today just behind the world renowned Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater) in Rome.

The Amphitheater was built in the 3rd Century AD and has stood the test of time with much of the structure still standing and intact. The amphitheater at El Djem was built by the Romans under proconsul Gordian, who was acclaimed Emperor at Thysdrus, around 238 and was mainly used for gladiator shows and small chariot races (like in Ben-Hur).

Many tourists visit the site to see what it was like where Lions and people often met their fate. Until the 17th century it remained mostly whole but from then on its stones were used for building the nearby village of El Djem and transported to the Great Mosque in Kairouan, and at a tense moment during struggles with the Ottomans, cannons were used to flush rebels out of the amphitheater.

The ruins were declared a world heritage site in 1979 with the Tunisian government committed to preserving the remaining structure for generations to come.

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