The Roman ruins of Vaison-la-Romaine are among some of the most important in France. Easily accessible, the two main sites that are open to the public - Puymin and La Villasse - can be found in the town centre, on each side of the tourist office.
At the Puymin site, you stroll through the heart of a magnificent quarter of the ancient town. There you can see the vestiges of beautiful patrician homes: the 2000 m² House of the Wreathed Apollo and the 3000 m² Maison à la Tonnelle. The sanctuary with porticos framing a garden and a central building was a place for promenades or perhaps for worship.
Several paths lead to the Roman theatre that dates from the 1st century BC. The stage wall was 25 metres high and its 32 tiers of seats, built in a semicircle, could accommodate 7000 people. Forgotten about for several centuries, it was the Abbot Sautel who unearthed the theatre in 1912. Statues, today exhibited in the Théo Desplans Museum, were found in the pits that hid the machinery. The Roman theatre serves as an outstanding venue for many events: the Choralies, Vaison Danse, Au fil des Voix, the Semaine de Théâtre Antique...
In the centre of the Puymin site you will also find the Théo Desplans Archaeological Museum. Following a great deal of conservation work and inventorying, it today possess a big collection with more than 2000 everyday objects and an antique statuary. It presents the ancient ways of life from prehistoric times to the Gallo-Roman era. The museum is accessible to people with reduced mobility.
As you visit the site, you will see an alignment of sepulchres. In the 5th century, following a policy of rejecting everything that was pagan, the people used part of the theatre's foundations as sarcophagi.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.