Orange, Ancient Monuments - Visit time : half-day.
The city of Arausio (its ancient Roman name) offers its Roman Theater and Triumphal Arch as a testament to its 2,000 years of history.
Both are in exceptional condition, as if the tragedies that were played in the theater happened just yesterday, and as if the visitors who pass under the Triumphal Arch on the Via Agrippa were the Emperor Augustus himself. The 20th century would be marked by the introduction of one of the largest festivals of lyrical art, the Choregies of Orange, which allowed the city to shine once again on the worldwide stage. The festival’s operas and symphonic concerts take place at the heart of the Roman Theater, offering a combination of history and culture, and timeless, magical moments.
The city of Orange reflects the period of Roman splendor in Provence. It features two vestiges of Roman times: the Triumphal Arch and the Roman Theater, monuments listed by UNESCO as World Heritage sites since 1981 under criteria iii and vi. The ancient Roman Theater of Orange, built in the time of Emperor Augustus (1st century BC), is one of the largest known ancient theaters, but also the best preserved. The facade, 103 meters long and 37 meters high, and the stage wall remain intact, though without their original marble flooring. There are only a few remains of the original decorations, however, the statue of Augustus still stands in the large central niche of the stage wall.
Archaeological excavations have brought to light the foundations of a temple and the remains of a capitol building in the immediate vicinity of the monument. North of the city on the ancient Via Agrippa, the Triumphal Arch, from the same era as the theater, recalls the exploits of the second legion in its fight against the Gauls. The Triumphal Arch remains, despite its damage, one of the most remarkable monuments of Roman Gaul.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (iii): The ancient theater is an outstanding, if not unique, example of Roman theaters.
Criterion (vi): The Triumphal Arch has universal value, especially in relation to the events referred to in the bas-reliefs on the north face (war against the barbarians, establishment of the Pax Romana)
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS.