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Arles ( ; Provençal Occitan: Arle in both classical and Mistralian norms) is a city in the south of Francemarker, in the Bouches-du-Rhônemarker department, of which it is a subprefecture, in the former province of Provence.

Geography

The Rhône river forks into two branches just upstream of Arles, forming the Camarguemarker delta. Because the Camargue is administratively part of Arles, the commune as a whole is the largest commune in Metropolitan France in terms of territory, although its population is only slightly more than 50,000. Its area is , which is more than seven times the area of Parismarker.

History

For the Ecclesiastical history see Archbishopric of Arles


Roman Arles

Arles was established by the Greeks as early as the 6th century BC under the name of Theline. It was captured by the Celtic Salluvii in 535 BC, who renamed it to Arelate. The Romans took the town in 123 BC and expanded it into an important city, with a canal link to the Mediterranean Seamarker being constructed in 104 BC. However, it struggled to escape the shadow of Massalia (Marseille) further along the coast.

Its chance came when it sided with Julius Caesar against Pompey, providing military support. Massalia backed Pompey; when Caesar emerged victorious, Massalia was stripped of its possessions, which were transferred to Arelate as a reward. The town was formally established as a colony for veterans of the Roman legion Legio VI Ferrata, which had its base there. Its full title as a colony was Colonia Iulia Paterna Arelatensium Sextanorum, "the ancestral Julian colony of Arles of the soldiers of the Sixth."

Importance

Roman Arelate was a city of considerable importance in the province of Gallia Narbonensis. It covered an area of some 99 acres (400,000 m²) and possessed a number of monuments, including an amphitheatremarker, triumphal archmarker, Roman circus, theatre, and a full circuit of walls. Ancient Arles was closer to the sea than it is now and served as a major port. It also had (and still has) the southernmost bridge on the Rhone. Very unusually, the Roman bridge was not fixed but consisted of a pontoon-style bridge of boats, with towers and drawbridges at each end. The boats were secured in place by anchors and were tethered to twin towers built just upstream of the bridge. This unusual design was a way of coping with the river's frequent violent floods, which would have made short work of a conventional bridge. Nothing now remains of the Roman bridge, which has been replaced by a more modern bridge near the same spot.

The city reached a peak of influence during the 4th and 5th centuries, when Roman Emperors frequently used it as their headquarters during military campaigns. In 395 it became the seat of the Praetorian Prefecture of the Gauls, governing the western part of the Western Empire: Gaul proper plus Hispania (Spainmarker) and Armorica (Brittany).

It became a favorite city of Emperor Constantine I, who built baths there, substantial remains of which are still standing. His son, Constantine II, was born in Arles. Usurper Constantine III declared himself emperor in the West (407–411) and made Arles his capital in 408.

Arles became renowned as a cultural and religious centre during the late Roman Empire. It was the birthplace of the sceptical philosopher Favorinus. It was also a key location for Roman Christianity and an important base for the Christianization of Gaul. The city's bishopric was held by a series of outstanding clerics, beginning with Saint Trophimus around 225 and continuing with Saint Honoré, then Saint Hilary in the first half of the 5th century. The political tension between the Catholic bishops of Arles and the Visigothic kings is epitomized in the career of the Frankish St Caesarius, bishop of Arles 503–542, who was suspected by the Arian Visigoth Alaric II of conspiring with the Burgundians to turn over the Arelate to Burgundy, and was exiled for a year to Bordeaux in Aquitaine, and again in 512 when Arles held out against Theodoric the Great, Caesarius was imprisoned and sent to Ravennamarker to explain his actions before the Ostrogothic king.

The friction between the Arian Christianity of the Visigoths and the Catholicism of the bishops sent out from Romemarker established deep roots for religious heterodoxy, even heresy, in Occitan culture. At Trevesmarker in 385, Priscillian achieved the distinction of becoming the first Christian burned alive for heresy (Manichaean in his case, see also Cathars, Camisards). Despite this tension and the city's decline in the face of barbarian invasions, Arles remained a great religious centre and host of church councils (see Council of Arles), the rival of Viennemarker, for hundreds of years.

Cloister of Saint Trophimus.


Medieval Arles

Arles was badly affected by the invasion of Provence by the Muslim Saracens and the Franks, who took control of the region in the 8th century. In 855 it was made the capital of a Frankish Kingdom of Arles, which included Burgundy and part of Provence, but was frequently terrorised by Saracen and Viking raiders. In 888, Rodolphe, Count of Auxerremarker (now in north-western Burgundy), founded the kingdom of Bourgogne Transjurane (literally, beyond the Jura mountains), which included western Switzerland as far as the river Reuss, Valaismarker, Genevamarker, Chablais and Bugeymarker.

In 933, Hugh of Arles ("Hugues de Provence") gave his kingdom up to Rodolphe II, who merged the two kingdoms into a new Kingdom of Arles. In 1032, King Rodolphe III died, and the Kingdom was inherited by Emperor Conrad II the Salic. Though his successors counted themselves kings of Arles, few went to be crowned in the cathedral. Most of the territory of the Kingdom was progressively incorporated into France. During these troubled times, the amphitheatremarker was converted into a fortress, with watchtowers built at each of the four quadrants and a minuscule walled town being constructed within. The population was by now only a fraction of what it had been in Roman times, with much of old Arles lying in ruins.

The town regained political and economic prominence in the 12th century, with the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa traveling there in 1178 for his coronation. In the 12th century, it became a free city governed by an elected podestat (chief magistrate; literally "power"), who appointed the consuls and other magistrates. It retained this status until the French Revolution of 1789.

Arles joined the countship of Provence in 1239 but suffered its prominence being eclipsed once more by Marseille. In 1378, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV ceded the remnants of the Kingdom of Arles to the Dauphin of France (later King Charles VI of France) and the Kingdom ceased to exist even on paper.

Modern Arles

Place de la République
Arles remained economically important for many years as a major port on the Rhône. The arrival of the railway in the 19th century eventually killed off much of the river trade, leading to the town becoming something of a backwater.


This made it an attractive destination for the painter Vincent van Gogh, who arrived there on 21 February 1888. He was fascinated by the Provençal landscapes, producing over 300 paintings and drawings during his time in Arles. Many of his most famous paintings were completed there, including The Night Cafe, the Yellow Room, Starry Night Over the Rhone, and L'Arlésienne. Paul Gauguin visited van Gogh in Arles. However, van Gogh's mental health deteriorated and he became alarmingly eccentric, culminating in the infamous ear-severing incident in December 1888. The concerned Arlesians circulated a petition the following February demanding that van Gogh be confined. In May 1889 he took the hint and left Arles for the asylum at nearby Saint-Rémy-de-Provencemarker.

Main sights

Arles has important remains of Roman times, which have been listed as World Heritage Sites since 1981. They include:

The Church of St. Trophimemarker (Saint Trophimus), formerly a cathedral, is a major work of Romanesque architecture, and the representation of the Last Judgment on its portal is considered one of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture, as are the columns in the adjacent cloister.
Capital of column in St. Trophime cloister.


The town also has an outstanding museum of ancient history, the Musée de l'Arles et de la Provence antiquesmarker, with one of the best collections of Roman sarcophagi to be found anywhere outside Rome itself. Another museum is the Museon Arlaten. However, perhaps surprisingly given the town's importance to van Gogh, none of his works are on display in Arles.

Archaeology

In September-October 2007 divers led by Luc Long from the French Department of Subaquatic Archaeological Research, headed by Michel L'Hour, discovered a life-sized marble bust of an apparently important Roman person in the Rhone River near Arles, together with smaller statues of Marsyas in Hellenistic style and of the god Neptune from the third century AD. The larger bust was tentatively dated to 46 BC. Since the bust displayed several characteristics of an ageing person with wrinkles, deep naso-labial creases and hollows in his face, and since the archaeologists believed that Julius Caesar had founded the colony Colonia Iulia Paterna Arelate Sextanorum in 46 BC, the scientists came to the preliminary conclusion that the bust depicted a life-portrait of the Roman dictator: France's Minister of Culture Christine Albanel reported on May 13, 2008, that the bust would be the oldest representation of Caesar known today. The story was picked up by all larger media outlets. The realism of the portrait was said to place it in the tradition of late Republican portrait and genre sculptures. The archaeologists further claimed that a bust of Julius Caesar might have been thrown away or discreetly disposed of, because Caesar's portraits could have been viewed as politically dangerous possessions after the dictator's assassination.

Historians and archaeologists not affiliated with the French administration, among them the renowned archaeologist and expert on Caesar and Augustus Paul Zanker, were quick to question whether the bust is a portrait of Caesar. Many noted the lack of resemblances to Caesar's likenesses issued on coins during the last years of the dictator's life, and to the Tusculummarker bust of Caesar, which depicts Julius Caesar in his lifetime, either as a so-called zeitgesicht or as a direct portrait. After a further stylistic assessment Zanker dated the Arles-bust to the Augustan period. Elkins argued for the third century AD as the terminus post quem for the deposition of the statues, refuting the claim that the bust was thrown away due to feared repercussions from Caesar's assassination in 44 BC. The main argument by the French archaeologists that Caesar had founded the colony in 46 BC proved to be incorrect, as the colony was founded by Caesar's former quaestor Tiberius Claudius Nero on the dictator's orders in his absence. Mary Beard has accused the persons involved in the find to have wilfully invented their claims for publicity reasons. The French ministry of culture has not yet responded to the criticism and negative reviews.

Sport

AC Arles is an amateur French football team. They will compete in Ligue 2 for the 2009-2010 season, having gained promotion from the Championnat National in the 2008-2009 season. They play at the Stade Fernand Fournier, which has a capacity of 2500.

Gallery

Image:Place_de_la_Republique_Arles.JPG|Place de la RepubliqueImage:sttrophimeportal.png|Portal of Saint Trophimus cathedral.Image:Alyscamps van gogh.jpg|Les Alyscamps, Falling Autumn Leaves, Vincent van Gogh, 1888.Image:Arlesmarketgarlicstand.jpg|Garlic stand in the Arles street market.Image:ArlesiensInCostume.jpg|Arlésiennes in costume.Image:arlesviewwithrhone.png|View of the city center, with the Rhone in the background.Image:arlesarena.jpg|Roman arena, inside view.Image:Arlesmarketspicestand.jpg|Spice stand in the Arles street market.Image:arlesarenes.png|Arles amphitheatreImage:Arles-PlaceDuForum.jpg|The Place Du Forum in Arles today.]]

Miscellaneous

The Arlésiens (citizens of Arles) were noted for distinctive traditional dress which is now worn publicly at certain festivals and occasions.

A famous photography festival takes place in Arles every year, and the French national school of photography is located there. The major French publishing house Actes Sud is also situated in Arles.

The film Ronin was partially filmed in Arles.

Bull fight are conducted in the amphitheatremarker, including Provencal-style bullfights (courses camarguaises) in which the bull is not killed but rather a team of athletic men attempt to remove a tassle from the bull's horn without getting injured. Every Easter and on the first weekend of September, Arles also holds Spanish-style corridas (in which the bulls are killed) with an encierro (bull-running in the streets) preceding each fight.

Arles's open-air street market is a major market in the region. It occurs on Saturday and Wednesday mornings.

Famous people



International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Arles is twinned with:

See also



Sources and external links





References


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