This well-preserved amphitheater was likely the first Roman theater in modern France and remains one of the country's most famous Roman landmarks.
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Originally designed to provide entertainment to Arausio, a Roman colony in Gaul, this impressive amphitheater is one of France's best-known Roman monuments. It is located near the commune of Orange in southeastern France.
The initial theater was constructed in the 1st Century AD during the reign of Emperor Augustus, who turned the Roman Republic into an Empire. The amphitheater hosted pantomimes, plays, and poetry readings that would last all day.
When Christianity became the dominant faith of the later Empire, the Church banned “uncivilized spectacles”, and the amphitheater was closed in AD 391. But in subsequent centuries, the monument was used as a defensive position before reopening as a theater that is still working today.
The amphitheater is dominated by an exterior facade that measures over 100 meters long and 37 meters high. There was enough seating for 5800 to 7300 people.
Behind the stage is another wall decorated with statues, including an 11-foot high representation of Augustus himself. This wall, known as a scaenae frons, was used to provide a backdrop for performances.
Visiting information and tips
The amphitheater is open throughout the year, with varying opening times depending on the season. There is also an Art and History Museum on site. Admission costs €10 for adults and includes access to the Museum.
The theater sits in the heart of Orange, with good rail and road links to Avignon. There is a free car park nearby.