Boasting Roman ruins, medieval churches, 18th-century mansions, and tributes to 19th-century painter Vincent van Gogh, Arles is rich with history. Its strategic position on the Rhône has long made it popular. Greeks first settled in the area around the 6th century B.C. In the 1st century b.c., Julius Caesar gave the city prominence in his empire after the citizens of Arles assisted the Romans in their capture of Marseille. It experienced a Golden Age when it was known as Rome of the Gauls.
In the early years of Christianity, Arles became a great religious center, but invasions throughout the Middle Ages ravaged the town. It was revived in the 12th century, and you can see a number of impressive Romanesque buildings from that period, including Eglise St-Trophime, which once was a cathedral. In the 17 th and 18th centuries, noblemen built mansions in the city center; the mansions surrounding place du Forum are now elegant hotels. Today, Arles is most famous for being one of the final homes of Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh. Fans of the tormented artist will find many reminders of him.
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