ArlesArles is a city in the south of France, in the Bouches-du-Rhône département, of which it is a sous-préfecture, in the former province of Provence.
The Rhône river divides itself in two arms in Arles, forming the Camargue delta. Because the Camargue is administratively part of Arles, Arles is the largest commune in France in terms of territory, although its population is only slightly more than 50,000. Its area is 750 km², which is 7 times the area of Paris.
Arles was an important city in Roman times (Latin name: Arelate), frequently used as headquarters for Roman Emperors in the 4th century during military campaigns, as well being the seat of the Praetorian Prefecture of the Gauls.
Arles was a favorite city of Emperor Constantine the Great, who build baths there, remains of which are still standing. Emperor Constantine III made Arles his capital in 408. Arles was an important base for the Christianization of Gaul.
The cathedral of St. Trophime (Saint Trophimus) 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.
During the Middle Ages, townspeople fortified the amphitheater and built a little town inside it, letting the walls of the amphitheater serve as the walls of a minuscule walled town, but in the modern period this town demolished and the amphitheater returned to its Roman appearance.
Vincent Van Gogh lived in Arles in 1888/89 and painted a number of his most famous paintings there, including the Night Cafe, the Yellow Room, Starry Night, and L'Arlesienne. However, there no paintings by Van Gogh in Arles.
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 located in Arles.
Bull fightss are conducted in the Roman amphitheater, including Provencal-style bullfights 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.
Jeanne Calment (1875-1997), the oldest human being whose age is documented, was born, lived and died in Arles.