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.

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Details

Founded: 0-100 BC
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France
Historical period: Arrival of Celts (France)

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4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Alain Frotey (7 months ago)
Interesting site, however lacking in explanation and price too high because no audio guide. 0
alice mac (10 months ago)
Magnificent. The pleasure of strolling through ancient ruins. A ticket gives the right of entry to the museum and the two ancient sites. The ancient theater offers a breathtaking view of the valley.
Luca Verona (338) (2 years ago)
Very very beautiful!!!
Eric Taffin (2 years ago)
Très chouette visite
Colin Cotter (3 years ago)
Wonderful site, I love the tunnel access to the amphitheatre.
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Heraclea Lyncestis

Heraclea Lyncestis was an ancient Greek city in Macedon, ruled later by the Romans. It was founded by Philip II of Macedon in the middle of the 4th century BC. The city was named in honor of the mythological hero Heracles. The name Lynkestis originates from the name of the ancient kingdom, conquered by Philip, where the city was built.

Heraclea was a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period, as it was at the edge of Macedon"s border with Epirus to the west and Paeonia to the north, until the middle of the 2nd century BC, when the Romans conquered Macedon and destroyed its political power. The main Roman road in the area, Via Egnatia went through Heraclea, and Heraclea was an important stop. The prosperity of the city was maintained mainly due to this road.

The Roman emperor Hadrian built a theatre in the center of the town, on a hill, when many buildings in the Roman province of Macedonia were being restored. It began being used during the reign of Antoninus Pius. Inside the theatre there were three animal cages and in the western part a tunnel. The theatre went out of use during the late 4th century AD, when gladiator fights in the Roman Empire were banned, due to the spread of Christianity, the formulation of the Eastern Roman Empire, and the abandonment of, what was then perceived as, pagan rituals and entertainment.

Late Antiquity and Byzantine periods

In the early Byzantine period (4th to 6th centuries AD) Heraclea was an important episcopal centre. A small and a great basilica, the bishop"s residence, and a funerary basilica and the necropolis are some of the remains of this period. Three naves in the Great Basilica are covered with mosaics of very rich floral and figurative iconography; these well preserved mosaics are often regarded as fine examples of the early Christian art period.

The city was sacked by Ostrogoth/Visigoth forces, commanded by Theodoric the Great in 472 AD and again in 479 AD. It was restored in the late 5th and early 6th century. When an earthquake struck in 518 AD, the inhabitants of Heraclea gradually abandoned the city. Subsequently, at the eve of the 7th century, the Dragovites, a Slavic tribe pushed down from the north by the Avars, settled in the area. The last coin issue dates from ca. 585, which suggests that the city was finally captured by the Slavs. As result, in place of the deserted city theatre several huts were built.

The Episcopacy Residence was excavated between 1970 and 1975. The western part was discovered first and the southern side is near the town wall. The luxury rooms are located in the eastern part. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th rooms all have mosaic floors. Between the 3rd and 4th rooms there is a hole that led to the eastern entrance of the residence. The hole was purposefully created between the 4th and 6th century.