The Antique Theatre is one of Arles’ main attractions from the Roman era. You can find it right in the city center, and it’s open for tours. It’s definitely worth a visit.

The theatre was built around the end of the 1st century BC when Emperor Augustus was in power. That’s about 100 years before the Amphitheatre (Arena) nearby.

The Theatre’s Former Glory

Back in the day, the Theatre was beautifully decorated. It hosted all sorts of shows, like mimes, pantomimes, tragedies, and comedies. These performances were full of political messages too. If you were a citizen of Roman Arles (known as Arelate), you could watch for free. The photo above shows a model of what the Theatre looked like in Roman times.

What’s Left Today

After the Roman empire fell, people used the Theatre as a place to get building materials. But in the 19th century, they dug up some interesting stuff buried in front of the stage and found decorative pieces left behind.

Here are some of the things they found:

  • The Acrotère, a fancy theater mask
  • An altar for Apollo
  • A marble head of Aphrodite
  • A bust of a young prince
  • A huge head of Augustus
  • A statue of Silenus
  • The Venus d’Arles

You can see these and other finds at the Museum of Ancient Arles. But the original Venus d’Arles is now at the Louvre in Paris.

There are still some cool architectural features at the Theatre, like:

  • The marble floor of the orchestra, where the important Romans used to sit
  • Two marble columns called the Two Widows
  • Parts of the stage wall
  • The three-tiered Tower of Roland from the early Middle Ages

Around the theatre, you’ll see lots of broken decorative bits, like marble capitals, columns, carved lintels, and scalloped niche caps. It’s like a graveyard for old masonry.

The Theatre Today

The Antique Theater has been partly restored in recent years. Now it’s used again for shows, festivals, and traditional events.

The theatre is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes other Roman and Romanesque monuments in Arles.

Plan Your Visit

Getting There: The Antique Theatre is on Rue du Cloître.

Ticket Info:

  • Adult Admission: €8.00
  • Combo Ticket Options:
    • Pass Advantage: €15.00 (Includes Antique Theater, Amphitheater, Cryptoporticus, Baths of Constantine, Alyscamps, and Cloister of St. Trophime)
    • Pass Liberté: €11.00 (Choose 1 museum, 4 monuments, and the Reattu Museum/Monument)

So if you’re in Arles, make sure to check out the Antique Theatre. It’s a fun way to explore the city’s Roman roots and see some pretty impressive ancient architecture. Plus, with the combo tickets, you can hit up some other cool spots too. Just remember to bring your walking shoes and your sense of adventure!

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