The Triumphal Arch and the Remains of the Temple
The Triumphal Arch
Further evidence of the Roman grandeur in Orange, the Triumphal Arch is also on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is in fact a commemorative urban arch acting as the gateway to the town and not a triumphal arch, insofar as triumphs were only celebrated in Rome.
Erected as a tribute to the veterans of the 2nd Gallic legion who founded the town, it is an exceptional monument to Provençal Roman art. Comprising a monumental gateway with three passageways and a double attic, it is richly decorated with panels of arms: shields, helmets, banners, etc. On the first attic, the exceptional sight of maritime symbols is an original allusion to the supremacy of Rome over the seas.
It can now be seen in all its splendour again thanks to the exceptional restoration carried out in 2010 under the responsibility of Mr Didier Repellin, head architect of Monuments Historiques.
The Remains of the Temple
Excavations in the 1920s revealed the remains of a temple and its altar, built around a large stone tiled floor, at the heart of a hemicycle. In days gone by it was surrounded by a semicircular portico comprising 52 columns. Some archaeologists believe these ruins are the remains of a circus or a stadium. Today it is generally thought that the theatre and the hemicycle building were an augusteum, together dedicated to the worship of the Emperor.
The temple was 24 metres wide and 35 metres long, and rose up above a podium. A large paved street separated the temple and the theatre. To the north of the temple, under the site of the road and the museum, was the forum. A wall running alongside the esplanade of the temple was adorned with 12 fountains, symbolising the twelve months of the year.