Place de la Republique, Arles, France, 2015

In the 6th century BC, the Greeks colonized the region, but glory days started during the Roman colonization from 1st century BC until the 5th. Today, the Roman Arena in Arles still stands up, only two blocks away from this square, see map and the photo bellow. Circus on the other hand is in ruins. In the centre of the Place de la Republique the Obélisque d'Arles is erected. It is a 4th-century Roman obelisk first erected in a center of the circus of Arles. After the circus was abandoned in the 6th century, the obelisk fell down and was broken in two parts. It was rediscovered in the 14th century and re-erected on top of a pedestal soon surmounted by a bronze globe and sun. Ornaments on top changed in times of political regimes. During the Revolution, the sun was replaced by a Phrygian cap; under the Empire, the eagle replaced the cap; under Louis-Philippe, the royal sun took the place of the rooster hunting the eagle. Since 1866, the ornaments were permanently removed and replaced by a bronze capstone until a fountain and the sculptures around it were designed by Antoine Laurent Dantan in the 19th century.

Remaining stones from circus were used for Christian churches and monasteries, among others church of St. Trophime, on this square, former cathedral built between the 12th and the 15th century. The church is an important example of Romanesque architecture, built upon the site of the 5th century basilica of Arles.

Two other dominant buildings are located on the square. First one is the 17 century Hotel de Ville [city hall] with watch tower, and quite unusually one more church Chapelle Sainte-Anne, rebuilt at the beginning of the 16th century.

Most importantly this centrally located square in the old city of Arles, is people watching space. On nice sunny days, like this one in mid August, everybody is here, including people cooling of at the fountain. Nice example of how cities, and of course public squares as their nucleus, after the glory days passed, adapted and once again become successful and attractive.

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urban squares initiative by aleksandar janicijevic is licensed under a creative commons attribution-share alike 2.5 canada license.

Last time updated on Saturday, October 17, 2015, 1:37 PM