El Djem, Tunisia

Grand-scale colonnades at the great amphitheater in El Djem
Grand-scale colonnades at the great amphitheater in El Djem


LOCATION The amphitheatre at El Djem is located 105 miles (170 km) south of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia



Jan: 50°F (10°C); Apr: 59°F (15°C); Jul: 77°F (25°C); Oct: 68°F (20°C)

The amphitheater in El Djem (Roman Thysdrus) dominates the town, visible for miles from the surrounding desert. Rising three stories high, it seems more like a fortress than a palace of entertainment – and indeed it has been used as one.

It is the largest amphitheater outside Italy, and was probably the last to be built, in the late 3rd century AD. It is also wonderfully preserved, revealing clearly how the animals, gladiators, and actors entered the arena, via passages that slope down from outside to the underground galleries. Two lift shafts show where the stars of the show were carried to their deadly moment of glory.

Practical Information

Getting There Fly to Tunis, then travel to El Djem by train (3 hours) or taxi (2 hours). It makes an easy day trip from Tunisia’s Mediterranean resorts.

When to Go Winter (Oct–Apr) is a good time to visit, though it can be wet. Alternatively, catch the International Festival of Symphonic Music, which is held here each summer.

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