The Arènes de Lutèce (Arenas of Lutetia) are among the most important ancient Roman remains in the 5th arrondissement of Paris (France) (known in antiquity as Lutetia), together with the Thermes de Cluny. Constructed in the 1st century AD, this theatre could once seat 15,000 people and was used also as an amphitheatre to show gladiatorial combats.
The site is located and accessible via rue Monge, rue de Navarre and rue des Arènes.
The Lutèce arenas are served by the metro at Place Monge, line (M) (7), and Jussieu, lines (M) (7) (10), as well as by bus lines (BUS) RATP 47, 67, 89 .
They are today accessible through the building at 49, rue Monge – where you can recognize the entrance thanks to a gladiator bust located on the entablature of the access door -, via rue des Arènes and Capitan Square. They are open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter and 9 p.m. during the summer.
The terraced seating surrounded more than half of the arena’s circumference, more typical of an ancient Greek theatre rather than a Roman one which was semi-circular.
The orchestra was surrounded by the wall of a podium 2.5 m (8.2 feet) high, surmounted by a parapet. The stage was 41m long. A series of nine niches were most likely used for statues. Five small rooms were situated beneath the lower terraces, some of which appear to have been animal cages that opened directly into the arena.
One can still observe significant remnants of the stage and its nine niches, as well as the grilled cages in the wall. The stepped terraces are not original, but historians believe that 41 arched openings punctuated the façade.
Slaves, the poor, and women were relegated to the higher tiers while the lower seating areas were reserved for Roman male citizens. For comfort, a linen awning sheltered spectators from the hot sun.