"Theater Antique" - The Roman Theater at Orange

Oirange was founded in 35 B.C. when Rome established it as a colony for retiring members of the Second Gallic Legion. It grew to be a thriving Roman settlement.

One of the legacies of that time is the Theater Antique, a huge Roman theater built as a gift of Caesar Augustus to the people of the area. The almost completely restored theater features a four story high stage wall, complete with a 3 meter (10 ft) high statue of Caesar Augustus in a niche above the middle of the stage.

Statue of Caesar Augustus in stage wall

The theater is used for various events, including a summer festival that has been an annual event since 1869. Outside the theater, excavations have revealed the remains of a temple and a gymnasium.

Another relic from the Roman era is the Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch) commemorating Augustus' victories at Actium. Decorated with batle scenes and marine symbols, the arch dates from 26 A.D.

The Arc de Triomphe

Orange played a significant role in the 14th and 15th centuries as the seat of the Dukes of Orange. Orange was a stronghold of protestantism in Catholic Provence. The color orange became a symbol for protestants as far away as Holland and Ireland.

Detail on the side of the Arc de Triomphe

Located near the northern edge of Provence, Orange is a large town with the accompanying issues of crowding and traffic. The city center, however, is compact and boasts walking streets and squares lined with shops.

Orange is 690 KM (414 miles) south of Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport and 116 KM (70 miles) northwest of Marseilles. It is easily reached by car from Marseilles or Nice. The city lies on the main high-speed rail line between Paris and Nice, making it easily reachable by train.


Copyright 2006 Harry B. Rowe