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Orange Triumphal Arch

The arterial road, which leaves Orange in a northerly direction leads to the Arc de Triomphe (Triumphal Arch), situated outside the town and sited on a circular space framed by plane trees. It was erected after Caesar's victory in 49 B.C. In spite of severe weathering it is the finest of its kind in France. Three arches with coffered vaulting form the gateways. Once there were a bronze Quadriga (four-horse chariot) and four statues on the top, while there is a representation of a Gallic battle on the frieze; below on either side are trophies from Gallic vessels.

The large and beautifully designed Arch at Orange (Orange Arch) is located in Orange, France near the confluence of the Rhone River and the Aygues River. In the Roman days, it is said that the Orange Arch was built near the famous road Via Agrippa. The original name of orange was Colonia Firma Julia Secundanorum Arausio, which is inscribed on the arch itself.

The Orange Arch was built c. 21-27 AD by a Roman legion of veterans. This Arch contains scenes of the history of Rome and how it was begun. The Arch also contains many scenes of battles ranging from naval battles to land battles. On certain areas of the arch, there are shields of legions and trophy standards. Later on in the history of Rome, this arch was dedicated to the Emperor Tiberius. There is an inscription on the arch added later on to the Emperor Tiberius because of the dedication to him.

The Roman legion veterans built this arch as a monumental arch for the founding of their city. This characteristic is unlike the Arch of Constantine and the Arch of Titus which are triumphal arches. Triumphal arches are arches built as a monument to commemorate a meaningful victory and a triumphal procession takes place beneath the arch. The Orange Arch is similar to the Arch of Constantine in that it contains three arches total, two on the side of the central arch which is taller than the two arches on the sides. The arches are built with columns that are fluted on tall plinths which act as a support to the arches. These columns acted as a frame for the arches in order to reduce the stress of the arch structures. On the top of the Orange Arch, there may have been statues of some sort along with a bronze quadriga. A quadriga is a chariot with two wheels with four horses harnessed to it.

The archways contain vaulted ceilings which are of the honey comb pattern. The number of honey combs in the taller arch and in the two smaller ones differs.

The Orange Arch has suffered damage over the centuries. The Orange Arch is mostly preserved well. The East end is in better shape than the West end. Over time, archers have used the arch as a type of target practice to improve their accuracy in bird hunting. Scholars have come to find that there may have been another inscription dedicated or in regards to Tiberius, besides the one seen today. There have been some bronze letters found near the arch and some holes in the arch itself that may have been part of this other inscription. Scholars have reconstructed some of this inscription on the north architrave. There is also some evidence that the Orange Arch may have been reconstructed when the arch became in honor or Tiberius.

The arch contains many scenes of battles, as mentioned before. Some scenes include Sirens which represent naval battles and in particular the Battle of Actium. The Sirens also represent the Romans’ dominance of the sea. A battle scene between the Romans and German Tribes of Rhineland and a battle scene between the Romans and Gauls is depicted and in between columns are captives of battles and with trophies, or in other words the Romans’ loot of a victory which are shields, weapons, and horse fittings, above the captives.

Besides the commemorative value of the arch, it was used as a defense aid in the middle ages to guard one of the entry ways to town. In the 1850’s the arch was studied and later restored by an architect. The columns around the arch mentioned earlier are Corinthian style, each semi- engaged and originally unmortared limestone. Corinthian style was an architectural style in which fluted columns were made with an intricate design on top of the column, usually containing leaves and scrolls. This is a Greek and Roman architectural way that was said to have originated in Corinth, Greece. This same design was used for other famous arches, including the Arch of Constantine. The Orange Arch is the oldest arch of this design that is still standing and intact. The structure is about 19 meters tall and 9 meters wide.
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