Amphitheater El Jam – African Colosseum

There are many interesting attractions in Tunisia, but the word "grandiose" can be awarded only one – this is an amphitheater in El Jam. It is also called "African Colosseum".

Built in the 3rd century, it became the third in size in the Roman Empire after the Colosseum in Rome and the Amphitheater of the city of Kapuya. A total of amphitheators in the Empire were built more than 230. Just recently (in February 2020) found and started digging another near the city of Kent in England.

Of course, the Amphitheater El Jime is wrong with the word "Colosseum", because the Colosseum is only one on the planet and is he is in Rome. Another name – the Roman Amphitheater of Tydra named Rome city, once standing at this place.

Modern city of El Jam small – 21,000 people. For tourists there is nothing interesting here, except for the amphitheater, archaeological museum and archaeological site zone. In this article, we will tell about all these places and begin with history.

A bit of history

From the ancient times the history of Tunisia at this place was the Berber village called Tedr, then the Phoenicians and the settlement were settled here in the Carthage state. After the fall of the Carthage, the Romans founded here the colony, where the veterans of the legions of Julia Caesar were settled.

The climate in Tunisia was then more wet and cold, the local soil gave huge crops of cereals and olives. The city of Tezdr rapidly growed, by the beginning of the 3th century he roldied with Hadrummet (now the Sousse City) for the title of second in size in the province of Africa after Carthagene. A large amphitheater was built here.

The fateful for the city of Tzdr became 238, which historians call "Year of six emperors". During this year, six emperors changed in the Roman Empire. One of them became Gordian, who was put forward by the townspeople of Tydra.

Initially, Gordian’s business walked perfectly, thydra residents raised a riot against the power of Rome, proclaimed him by the emperor, Gordian triumphly entered Carthage, the Roman Senate admitted to his emperor. It would seem that the operation of the seizure of power was successful.

But the governor of neighboring Numidia remained faithful to the old emperor Maximina. He brought one legion to suppress the uprising. At Gordiana, the personnel army was not at all, his militia was broken. The son of Gordiana was killed in battle, and Gordian himself committed suicide. Tzdr city was completely destroyed by legionnaires.

The city is no longer restored, and the amphitheater was used as a fortress. In 430, they were defended here from Vandals, in 647 from the first invasion of Arabs. In 699, the leader of Berberov El Kakhina was defended here during the third invasion of Arabs in Tunisia.

In the 17th century, part of the amphitheater disassembled, the stone was taken to the reconstruction of the Big Mosque Kairuan. In 1695, tunisians who rebels against the Mnetze of the Ottoman Empire were defended here. In 1850, another uprising, the rebels defend in the amphitheater from the troops of Bay. All these events carried destruction, many of which can be seen now on the walls of the building.

Archaeological value in the amphitheater saw only the French when Tunisia became the colony of France in 1881. In 1904, active excavations began.

Amphitheater suffered during the Second World War, when he was stormed by English troops.

Restoration was held between 1974 and 1980. Restored seats and some designs. In 1979, Amphitheater El Jam was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage List. Since 1985, an international festival of symphonic music in El Jam is held in the Amphitheater.

Figures and interesting facts

– Amphitheater el-jam oval shape, external dimensions: 148 meters (large axis) 122 meters (small axis). Height – 36 meters. For comparison, the sizes of the Roman Colosseum – 188×156 meters.

– Circle Length: 427 meters, Roman Colosseum is 100 meters more.

– Area sizes: 65 by 37 meters.

– The building has three floors with arches in Corinthian style. In total, there were 68 arches here, now there are only 30 of them.

– The capacity of the amphitheater el-jam is estimated at 30-35,000 people. The population of Tzdr is estimated by historians in 50-60,000 people. Obviously, the city had no need for such a large building. Apparently, the construction of such a large amphitheater was a political step – to show the wealth of the city.

– On many sites on the Internet, in advertising booklets and from the stories of guides, you can hear that it was in the Amphitheater el-jam filmed the film "Gladiator" with Russell Crow in the lead role. This information is not true. Scenes of fighting in the arena were removed in Malta, where they created the arms layout with just one floor of the Tribune. The rest then added computer graphics. If you want to confirm these facts, go to the official website of the film or the Universal Studios film company, you will read the same.

– Amphitheater has no foundation in El Jam. The soil here is solid and smooth, the foundation is simply no need.

– Amphitheater is protected by law 35-1994 and special decree. According to these laws, in the zone of 300 meters around, it is impossible to build buildings with a height of more than 5 meters.

– Now the area is deserted. For many years Arena, podium and basement rooms were covered with sand, which provided them with excellent safety. On the excursion will be what to see.

Excursions to El Jam

Russian-speaking excursion only in El Jam do not spend, but this place can be visited as part of comprehensive excursions.

A visit to El Jam enters a tour of the Sahara, which is held for tourists from all resorts of Tunisia, including from the Zarza and Jerba Island. This excursion lasts two full days, not all tourists are solved on it, few people want to break away from the paid All Inclusive for two days.

Another option is an excursion "El Jam – Kairuan". It lasts one day, the program includes the amphitheater and the ancient capital of Tunisia – the city of Kairuan. Unfortunately, such an excursion is not all Russian tour operators. This excursion is not held for tourists in the Zarzis and on Djerba.

Time for an inspection of El Jem during an excursion will be limited. Amphitheater himself will have time to see, but there is not enough time on the museum and the archaeological zone. If you want to see El Jime, everything is interesting, you will have to go here yourself.

How to get yourself

Of all the Tunisian resorts, the Sousse and El Cantaui (63 km), Monastir (65 km) and Machia (43 km) are closer to El Jom. Some tourists travel to El Jam from hotels of these resorts by taxi, the benefit of taxi in Tunisia is inexpensive. A trip to both sides with the driver’s expectation will cost 150-200 Tunisian dinars. A similar amount will cost a trip from Sfax (64km).

Through the city of El Jam hosts the main in Tunisia Railway Branch. The train ticket will cost much cheaper than a taxi, and many tourists consider this way more secure. Read the details in our review "Trains in Tunisia".

Prices for tickets and excursions

Excursion to Sahara costs 110-140 US dollars, depends on the resort of departure and greed of the seller of excursions. Excursion "El Jem – Kairuan" costs 50-70 dollars.

If you come on your own, you will have to buy a ticket for 12 dinars, a photograph resolution costs 1 dinar.

Opening hours

Every day from 9-00 to 19-00 in the summer, and from 9-00 to 17-30 in winter. On Friday (sacred day of the week for Muslims) Schedule of the usual.

What to see

Arena Amphitheater

Amphitheater El Jam - African Colosseum

The main impression of tourists get when they stand in the arena, here you can feel like a gladiator who has a fight for the public in the stands. But this feeling is interesting to receive only a couple of minutes, then curiosity requires more.

Loose and see a long hatch in the center of the arena, it leads to basement. Watch in the photo on the right, click on the photo to enlarge. Guides say that through this hatch in the arena, gladiators and animals for battles. This is not true. This hatch served to ventilate basement. He was always open, only during the battles it was covered with wooden flooring.

Gladiators entered the arena through the main gate. The status of the gladiator was very high, some of them were real folk heroes and idols. Naturally, in the cells under the shares of gladiators did not hold.

In the cells in under the arena held animals and sentenced. The Romans were very practical people, they did not hire the executioners for execution, and put sentenced to the arena against gladiators. Triple benefit: And the execution of the state is free of charge, and gladiators training, and the crowd entertainment.

For lifting sentences and animals, two elevators served, holes for these elevators can now be seen on both sides of a long hatch. Tourists let go down, you can see the premises where they held sentenced and slaves.


Now there is only half the tribune. During the restoration, seats restored. You can sit and see, feel the ancient Roman, who came to see the bloody show. Inside the building there are passages to the stands, their configuration is approximately the same as in modern circuses or in stadiums.

Pay attention to the stones from which the amphitheater is complicated. If you look closely, you will find triangular holes. These openings of the Romans used to lift blocks on winches. On the photo on the left you can clearly see these holes, click on the photo to enlarge.

Amphitheater El Jam is also the opportunity to look at the ancient Roman building technologies.

Archaeological Museum

A ticket to the amphitheater gives the right to visit the museum, which is located in the south on the road to the city of Sfax. In the museum you can see the objects of life, coins, ceramics. But the most interesting here is Roman mosaics, preserved in the field of Roman villas.

Most of Mosaics from El Jama was taken to the Bardo Museum and the Sousse Museum in Kasbe. Two famous mosaics were left here: "Goddess of Africa" ​​and "Four Seasons".

Archaeological excavations

Immediately behind the museum is a place of excavations of villas of the city of Tzdr. Two villas are preserved better: "Peacock House" and "Sollertian House", in which there are a few big mosaics.

Important moments

– There are no exchangers in El Jime, and the currency can only be changed in the mail or in the bank. Conclusion: Change the desired amount in the dinar in advance. Read our article "Currency exchange in Tunisia";

– El Jam is far from the coast. There is no pleasant breeze, and the heat is heavier. Do not forget the hats and close the shoulders. The sun can be insidious about what we talked in detail in the article "Dangeries for tourists in Tunisia";

– There is a GENERAL supermarket in El Jema, it is located about a railway station, which is 300 meters from the amphitheater. But there is no alcohol department in this General. Details in our article "Magasin General".

We wish youn an interesting visit to the amphitheater and museums in El Jam, and read our other cognition and useful reviews about Tunisia (List of links below).

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Hello! I think there is a mistake in the text. Not "DONATED", and basement).

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