Friday, 23 November 2012
An Orange in a sea of grapes.
One of our excursions away from Uzès recently found us in the town (small city) of Orange, about 40 or so kilometres away. Since there is such an amazing amount of Roman history throughout this area, we decided to take in the 'Thèâtre Antique d'Orange', or as we would call it, the really cool Roman amphitheater in Orange.
Quick bit of history. This place is unique because it is the only Roman amphitheater in Europe which has retained its backstage wall. Two others exist this way, one in Turkey and one in Syria.
The place is truly awesome. Even better as we were visiting it in November when there were more cats cruising through it than tourists.
With a total seating capacity of about ten thousand, the whole city of Orange, or Arausio as it was known in Roman times, could watch a performance all together. Since this was Rome, admission was always free, but the people of "lower social status" were allowed in the nosebleed section only.
Although "those damn Goths" sacked the city in 412 AD, the back wall of the theatre has survived for more than 2000 years, with the area inside used as both a fortress and later a whole flourishing Dutch town.
Here we are near the top of the seating area. In the 18th Century, when the Dutch prince left to go back home to the Netherlands, King Louis XIV ordered the whole town to be dismantled and the theatre returned to its past glory. What a guy!
This is the last remaining statue that was found within the rubble of the theatre. It and other original artifacts have been returned to their appropriate places on the stage.
Since the early 19th Century, when the seating area was restored, the amphitheater has been in use for its intended purpose: seeing plays performed in the open air. By the way, the acoustics are amazing, just remember to bring a cushion to sit on...
Oh yeah. One of the best aspects of being in the south of France: Look carefully at the outside temperature shown on the dashboard of the car... and the date...nice.