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Monday, January 10, 2011

The Ancient City of Arles

detail of Roman theatre

Roman coliseum interior view

Van Gogh's asylum courtyard

view with Van Gogh's night time rendition of the same site

exterior detail Roman coliseum

early Christian sarcophagus side detail

Arles is one of my favorite stops in the south (or anywhere, for that matter) in France--- so much beauty and history within easy grasp. Its Roman roots are in clear evidence in the well preserved and magnificent coliseum and theatre at the heart of the city, where they are surrounded by other outstanding monuments from the medieval and renaissance eras. A host of carved figures sigh and grimace from weathered facades among a labyrinth of winding, narrow streets that bloom here and there with lavish blues and the hot colors of the south. Here, also,Van Gogh painted a significant number of masterworks both within and without the asylum walls, a shelter that still stands in mute testament to his images' power to insinuate themselves into our collective conscious. The Arlesian churches boast some of the most extensive collections of saints' relics I have encountered--a macabre juxtaposition of dark cranium fragments and shattered long bones resting on scarlet velvet within elaborate Gothic style reliquaries of gold and rock crystal. Hope you enjoy this small taste of Arles' riches as much as I have...

Roman columns



Roman coliseum

Van Gogh's asylum

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