Period I newsletter

Collection Musées romain d'Avenches. Photo/Foto TES.

Amphitheatre and theatre of Aventicum

Roman imperial power and monuments can be seen everywhere in Avenches (Aventicum in Latin), the ancient capital of the Helvetians. The Roman museum shows the history of this city of 20 000 inhabitants in the first centuries AD.

The amphitheater and the theatre and their shows were financed mainly by local magistrates and the elite, the system of the so-called euergetism. It was the place to see and to be seen.

The (provincial) theatre hosted a wide variety of productions, such as mime, pantomime, dance, singing, music, mythological plays and occasionally, perhaps, (Greek) tragedies and comedies.

The theatre was built on the site of the ancient Roman town Aventicum near the ruins of the temple, called “Cigogne” nowadays.

Those days, the amphitheater was located further away from the centre of the Roman city because of a lack of space, and to be close to roads to receive the large crowds

The amphitheater showed gladiatorial combats and other spectacles. Tens of thousands of spectators were present. They were a medium of propaganda as well.

The statutes of the Gods, the imperial family and the local elite were omnipresent, expressing the (divine) power of Rome and the ruling class.

The museum shows a reconstruction of the richly decorated amphitheatre on video.

The museum provides a good overview of the impressive public buildings in this provincial capital of the Roman Empire. (Source and further information: