By all accounts, London, York, in fact any English city in the so called ‘Dark Ages’ would have been pretty grim places to inhabit – even taking into account a much warmer climate. I think, taking into account everything: Moorish and Viking incursions, the ambitions of Frankish kings, and the later Albigensian and Cathar crusades, Arles was the place to be. Its magic still holds today.
Who would not want to live in place where you might be christened Boso, the son of Biven of Gorze and Richildis of Arles; who would not like to be surrounded by people with names like Engeltrude or Teutberga, Lothair or Hucbert; or even the less flamboyantly named Charles the Bald?
Within the Roman empire it was one of the great centres, favoured by Constantine the Great, but it is in later years that it became much more interesting.
What struck me most, wandering its streets and great ruins, was the dazzling light and shadows on stones.
Side streets on your way to:
The Great Amphitheatre
It is hard to believe that in the early Middle Ages houses and two churches were built into what doubled up as a fort.
Wandering through its interior
Its upper tiers
A studious youth
At the top, but not yet the tower
A glimpse of Arles
Arles from the tower
And from higher still