2 Place Saint-Pierre, 13200 Arles
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Hotel Mireille Arles

The Alyscamps

Date: 4th century, 12th century

In Ancient Times, cemeteries were always located outside the city walls and were often placed along the main roads. From the beginning of the Roman Empire, cremation tombs, sarcophagi and mausoleums lined the Via Aurelia, creating a vast necropolis. But, it is in early Christian times that the cemetery took on a major importance with the burial of the martyr St. Genest and the graves of the first bishops of Arles, sheltered in a chapel which was quickly surrounded by a large number of tombs pressed in several rows. 

Around 1040 a priory dedicated to St. Honorat and depending on the St. Victor abbey in Marseilles was erected. The necropolis became an obligatory stage of the pilgrimage of St. James of Compostela and the chansons de geste did not fail to place the combat of Charlemagne against the Saracens there, to explain the abundance of tombs. Dante immortalized this place in his poem “Hell”. The alley of Alyscamps, which remains today, was developed by the Minimes monks in the 18th century. In 1888, Van Gogh and Gauguin painted in these romantic “Champs Elysées” of Arles.
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