La villa gallo-romaine d’Orbe-Boscéaz. Musée Mosaïques d’Orbe-Boscéaz. Photo/Foto: TES.

Roman Villa of Orbe-Boscéaz

The villa was built in the first century and completed in the second century. The owners leave the complex around 250-290 because of the invasions by German tribes.

The entire complex was abandoned in the fifth century after the departure of the Romans and the arrival of Germanic tribes.

The Gallo-Roman villa had huge dimensions, 230 x 90 metres, and was organised around five courtyards. Colonnades and Roman gardens surrounded the two courtyards. To the west of this wall was a temple from the early 3rd century dedicated to the Persian god Mithra.

Nine mosaics are still visible today. It is the finest and most extensive collection of Roman mosaics north of the Alps.

They have been preserved in their original location in five pavilions and offer many Roman mythical/religious and everyday subjects.

Pavilion I is on the site of the entrance to the dining room (triclinium, cenatio). There are three mosaics with geometric motifs on the floor.

Pavilion II in the bedroom (cubiculum) with the labyrinth and Triton mosaics.

Pavilion III in private quarters has two poorly preserved mosaics, probably a procession and a geometric design.

Pavilion IV in the bathhouse’s changing room (apodyterium) shows the best-preserved mosaic on the world of the gods.

Pavilion V stands on the site of the villa owner’s ‘office’ (tablinum). The mosaic depicts the Illiad, particularly the meeting between Odysseus and Achilles.

(Source and further information: Guide archéologiques de la Suisse 5. La villa gallo-romaine d’Orbe-Boscéaz et ses mosaïques, Orbe 1997;