Triumphal Arch of Orange

Coordinates: 44°8′30.9″N 4°48′18.3″E / 44.141917°N 4.805083°E / 44.141917; 4.805083
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Triumphal Arch of Orange
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Monumental Arch of Orange
LocationOrange, Vaucluse, France
Part ofRoman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange
CriteriaCultural: (iii), (iv)
Inscription1981 (5th Session)
Area0.01 ha (0.025 acres)
Buffer zone116 ha (290 acres)
Coordinates44°8′30.9″N 4°48′18.3″E / 44.141917°N 4.805083°E / 44.141917; 4.805083
Triumphal Arch of Orange is located in Vaucluse
Triumphal Arch of Orange
Location of Triumphal Arch of Orange in Vaucluse
Triumphal Arch of Orange is located in France
Triumphal Arch of Orange
Triumphal Arch of Orange (France)

The Triumphal Arch of Orange (French: Arc de triomphe d'Orange) is a triumphal arch located in the town of Orange, southeast France.[1] There is debate about when the arch was built,[2] but current research that accepts the inscription as evidence (27 BC–AD 14)[3] favours a date during the reign of emperor Augustus.[4] It was built on the former via Agrippa to honor the veterans of the Gallic Wars and Legio II Augusta. It was later reconstructed by emperor Tiberius to celebrate the victories of deceased general Germanicus over the German tribes in Rhineland (c. 20–27 AD).[4] The arch contains an inscription dedicated to emperor Tiberius in AD 27.[5] Along with the Roman Theatre of Orange, the Triumphal Arch was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1981 because of its exceptional preservation.[6]


Triumphal Arc in 1842.

The arch was built into the town's walling during the Middle Ages to guard the northern entry points of the town.[4] Architect Auguste Caristie studied the arch and carried out restoration work in the late 1820s.[5] The arch was originally constructed using large unmortared limestone blocks. It has three arches, the center one being larger than the flanking ones. The entire structure measures 19.57 meters long by 8.40 meters wide, standing to a height of 19.21 meters.[4] Each façade has four semi-engaged Corinthian columns. The arch is the oldest surviving example of a design that was used later in Rome itself, for the Arch of Septimius Severus and the Arch of Constantine. The visible pocks or holes are supposedly left by practicing medieval crossbowmen with little appreciation for art or history.[7]

On the northern (outward-facing) facade, the architrave and cornice have been cut back and a bronze inscription inserted, now lost; attempts at reconstructing its text from the placement of cramp holes for the projecting tines of its letters have not been successful.[8] The arch is decorated with various reliefs of military themes, including naval battles, spoils of war and Romans battling Germanics and Gauls. A Roman foot soldier carrying the shield of Legio II Augusta is seen on the north front battle relief.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ It is situated 600 meters north from the town center by route N7.
  2. ^ Bibliography of scholarship that rejects the inscription as evidence for dating the construction is presented by James C. Anderson, Jr., "Anachronism in the Roman Architecture of Gaul: The Date of the Maison Carrée at Nîmes" The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 60,1 (March 2001:68-79) p. 71 note 12; Anderson offers a revised date in the first half of the second century for the Maison Carrée: "in short, once the date of the Maison Carrée is called into question, the entire chronology for such Romano-Provençal monuments requires reassessment" (p. 72).
  3. ^ The traditional dating for the triumphal arches of Gallia Narbonensis is summarized in Pierre Gros, "Pour une chronologie des arcs de triomphe de Gaule narbonnaise", Gallia 37 (1979:55-83
  4. ^ a b c d Cleere, Henry (May 14, 2001). Southern France: An Oxford Archaeological Guide. Oxford University Press. pp. 122–123. ISBN 0-19-288006-3.
  5. ^ a b c Bromwich, James (1993). The Roman Remains of Southern France: A Guidebook. Routledge. pp. 183–186. ISBN 0-415-14358-6.
  6. ^ "Roman Theatre and its Surroundings and the "Triumphal Arch" of Orange". UNESCO World Heritage Centre. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Retrieved 11 October 2021.
  7. ^ "Images of the Roman Triumphal Arch at Orange, France". Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  8. ^ R. Amy, P.-M. Duval, J. Formigé, Ch. Picard, and A. Piganiol, L'Arc d'Orange (Paris, 1962).