Théâtre Antique

Top choice historic site in Orange

Orange's monumental, Unesco-protected Roman theatre is unquestionably one of France's most impressive Roman sights. It's one of only three intact Roman theatres left in the world (the others are in Syria and Turkey), and its sheer size is awe-inspiring: designed to seat 10,000 spectators, its stage wall reaches 37m high, 103m wide and 1.8m thick. Little wonder that Louis XIV called it 'the finest wall in my kingdom'.

In its heyday the theatre would truly have been a sight to behold: covered in statues and carvings, and richly decorated in mosaics and marble slabs. Experiments have shown the wall was specially designed to focus and project sound.

Unfortunately, time has taken its toll on this most theatrical of structures, and an enormous preservation project was launched in 2016 to make sure it survives for future theatre-goers to enjoy. The local limestone from which it was built has weathered badly, and over eight years the most delicate parts of the building will undergo painstaking restoration using a variety of cutting-edge techniques, including laser-mapping and chemical preservation, as well as good old-fashioned stonemasonry. Different sections of the theatre are being restored each year, but this does mean you'll have to deal with scaffolding and construction until at least 2024.

Nevertheless, the theatre remains completely open to visitors, and still hosts its annual opera festival, Chorégies d'Orange.

You can book admission tickets in advance online.There's also a useful app available to download, which includes an 80-minute guided tour.

The entrance is on the theatre's west side.


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