Monday, October 19, 2020

Provence has a rich roman heritage, dating back from the 1st century BC. Provence was the first territory beyond the Alps conquered by the Romans (70 BC). Provence then served as a base to conquer Gaul in 58-51 BC. This base was referred to “Provincia Romana”, and this is where the word “Provence” originates.

When visiting Provence, here are some of the must-sees for anyone moved by ancient heritage and architecture.

The city of Nîmes, Provence

Nimes is about the most impressive sites in the whole of France. It was conquered by the Romans before c. 28BCE, and was referred to as “Nemausus” by the Romans, in reference to the God of the local Gauls tribe.

In modern times, this city has become very famous for its stunning Roman architectural remains notably Maison Carrée (Square House) which is an ancient Roman temple and one of the best preserved Roman temples to survive in the territory of the former Roman Empire.

Tourists would love to spend 30 minutes to enjoy a new film, “Nemausus: The Birth of Nîmes,” that is shown daily at Maison Carrée. This film takes visitors on a journey into the founding of Nimes from the perspective of a family between 55 BCE and 90 CE (Trailer HERE).

A second site not to miss in nimes is the Roman Amphitheater - “les Arènes”. Although there are larger similar buildings remaining today, Nimes’ is the best preserved in Europe. Dating back to its construction around 70 CE, the amphitheater still retains its ability to draw a crowd with events open to the public in the summer and two annual bullfights. It has the capacity to accommodate up to 24,000 spectators.

While les Arènes and Maison Carrée are the most visited Roman ruins in Nimes, a few other places that would make for great stops are the Temple of Diana (Augusteum/nymphaeum), the only remnants of the ancient Augustan fortifications (Porte d’Auguste), and Castellum divisorium (the ending point of the aqueduct known to have brought water into the city).

Another strong recommendation is Musée de la Romanité. Just like the other sites in Nimes, this is perfect for all kinds of visitors and would serve as great education for teenagers. The museum boasts of about 25,000 pieces which include some choice mosaics.


Pont du Gard, Vers-Pont-du-Gard

It is popularly considered as Europe’s most elegant Roman site and has been a UNESCO World Heritage for 20 years.

Between the months of May through August, this oustanding structure even becomes more elegant as it is totally illuminated under majestic Mediterranean sky similar to the famous painting of Vincent Van Gogh.