Luma Tower in Arles

16 February 2021  |  Tourism, Architecture, UNESCO

Arles and The Luma Tower

The old Roman town of Arles sits on the edge of the Camargue national park and contains some beautiful and classical architecture; the magnificent Roman amphitheatre, the Saint-Trophime Catherdral and the Hotel de Ville dating back to 1676. The town’s history has afforded it to become a UNESCO World Heritage site.

But now there is something new in town; an aesthetically-challenging 56 metre high tower finished with 11,000 aluminium panels. Described by architecture critic Frank Miller as a "stainless-steel tornado", the cladding was designed by its architect Frank Gehry to evoke the craggy limestone cliffs around the city for which it is known. Gehry’s architecture is often controversial (the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Barcelona’s Olympic Fish Pavilion, the Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, and Dancing House in Prague. There was much concern from locals about the design of the tower deeming it gaudy and unnecessary.

The tower will be used as an experimental contemporary art centre with space available for exhibitions from a diverse source of artists and creators.

Arles is best known in the art world for being home to Vincent Van Gogh who arrived on February 20th 1888 from Paris. He rented the famous ‘Yellow House’ and went on to create a portfolio of some of the most famous paintings in the world today. Interest in Van Gogh brings the town great revenue from tourists and this new tower is expected to increase tourism even further.

Whether you are holidaying in the Rhone Valley, east Occitanie or western Provence, a visit to Arles is a great day out. Its winding streets and links to the cowboys of the Camargure are great for families of all ages to discover. And don’t forget to stop for a coffee or apéritif at the café famously depicted in Van Gogh’s "Café Terrace at Night".

The Cafe Terrace on the Place du Forum

 Vincent van Gogh, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

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Hugh Atkins

Co-founder of Pure France. 20 years of visiting and photographing fabulous properties, meeting fascinating people and driving every main and back road in France.

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