El Djem - FURTHER INFORMATION
El Djem - El Djem visitor guide showing a virtual tour of 'El Djem' linked to an interactive map with local and travel information. 360° panoramas from Mahdia.
The small village of El Djem (El Jem, Arabic: قصر الجمّ; Latin Thysdrus) lies about 20 miles inland in the Mahdia Governorate of central Tunisia. El Djem lies on the main route between M'saken and Sfax, forming the junction with other roads leading to Mhadia on the coast and As-sawasi inland. It is most famous today for the El Djem Amphitheatre, the largest and best preserved Roman amphitheatre in North Africa, and the principle tourist attraction in the area.
Before the Romans arrived, El Djem was a small Punic settlement. The climate 2,000 years ago was more temperate and instead of the desert of today, El Jem was surrounded by olive groves. The Romans called the town 'Thysdrus', and it prospered with the olive trade and olive oil production, rivaling modern Sousse as the second city of North Africa after Carthage.
The famous Amphitheatre was built in the 3rd century by Marcus Antonius Gordianus and was capable of seating some 35,000 spectators. Sadly, shortly after the amphitheatre opened, El Jem was sacked by troops loyal to Emperor Maximinus Thrax while putting down a revolt started by Gordianus in 238. There are many other Roma ruins nearby, but they remain mostly buried in the sand.
TRAVEL DIRECTIONS AND GETTING THERE
Car: El Djem is on the M'saken-Sfax motorway, about 30km south of M'saken and 60km north of Sfax.
Train: El Jem Station