Orange is a city of 30,000 inhabitants ca, in the Vaucluse department of the French Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region.
Placed on the Rhône floodplain and crossed by two tributaries of the same river (the Meyne in the centre of the city and the Aygues at the North), the city has been growing around the Saint Eutrope hill.
Since ancient times, Orange has been an important passage, thanks to its position on the Rhône valley and along the via Agrippa.
The Roman city was founded in 40-30 BC by veterans of the Legio II Gallica. Starting from the XIth century, after having been a county under Charlemagne, Orange’s rank was raised to that of Principality, at the lead of which the dynasties Baux (1178-1393), Châlon, (1393-1530), Nassau (1530-1702) and Conti (1702-1731) followed each other. In 1731 the Principality would ultimately be joined to the Kingdom of France and included in the Dauphiné Province.
In 1981, the Roman Theatre and the Triumphal Arch were included in the UNESCO WHL.
The Roman Theatre, built at the beginning of the Christian period(I cen BC – I cen AD) owes its fame to the exceptional state of conservation. It’s a typical, half-round Roman theatre with the cavea around the orchestra. The cavea is in part supported by substructions, and in part leaning against the Sanit Eutrope hill. The city-life central spot ever since, it seats 7000 and is provided for with excellent acoustics, that allows for its usage in the famous Chorégies festival.
Erected during the Late Republican period (49BC) following the Roman victory over the Cimbri and Teutones, in 25 AD the Triumphal Arch was consecrated by Emperor Tiberius to remind of the heroic actions by the veterans of the Legio II Gallica and celebrate their victory against Marseille’s fleet under Caesar. It is placed at the entrance to the city, along the via Agrippa, and has the function of monumental gate. This triple-arched gateway (the oldest of this kind) has a double attic and a bulging main body. It features columns topped by entablature and pediment over the central arch and on the sides: on the sides inside the perdiment there is an arch. It features rich, carved decorations (trophies and battle scenes) whose reliefs are unusually unframed. In 1999, during excavation works North of the arch, the splendid remains of an ancient necropolis were brought back to light: mausolea, sculptures, a sphinx, headstones, votive materials, plates, vases, glasses, friezes and much more, enriching Orange’s prestigious Roman finds.
The City Museum was founded in 1933 and is presently inside a XVIIth-cen building in front of the Roman Theatre. It features finds coming from the excavation works in the city, among which the Roman Cadastre (les Cadastres), and a display of the history of the city up until the XVIIIth century.
On 21 Aug 1869, three bourgeoises from Orange – Antony Réal, Felix Ripert and Alphonse Bernard – organized a Roman party, whose success led to the festival now called Chorégies. Yearly, the Ancient Theatre stages concerts, ballets, tragedies and comedies. Since 1971, the festival turned to the world of opera, and the Chorégies are by now to be listed among the greatest international opera festivals, being participated in by the major directors and soloists.
The twinning with Spoleto was established in the early ’80s.