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.

Maison Carrée

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.

Les Arènes: Source -

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.

Pont du Gard: Source -

Kayaking and canoeing are perfect activities for families and groups who will be visiting this ancient architecture.

On site, groups and families would love to explore the museum. It recreates the history of the Roman aqueduct with very accurate virtual reconstructions, models, multimedia screens, and sounds. These are all very engulfing and would take any visitor back to the Roman world.

Glanum, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

For lovers of photography, this is a must-see. It presents the most stunning views of Provence, thanks to its vantage location in the heart of the magnificent Alpilles mountains.

This archeological site houses the remains of a number of pivotal religious and civic monuments, depicting and ancient urban development. It was originally a modest settlement constructed around a sacred spring 600 BCE, but expanded after contact with the Greek.

It has become very popular in the modern world for two Roman monuments that have been spared over time; les antiques and a triumphal arch.

Triumphal arch: Source -

Arles, Provence

Arles is a city on the Rhône River in the Provence region of southern France, and yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. It once used to be a strategic position between Italy and Spain.

Its popularity grew in 2008 when a bust of Julius Caesar, who is credited with founding a Roman colony in this city, was found at the bottom of the Rhône River. This bust is generally believed to be the only known portrait-bust of Julius Caesar made while he was alive.

The city is famous for the number of ancient Roman buildings that still stand today. A few of which are Arènes d’Arles (the amphitheater), Théâtre Antique, Thermae of Constantine (baths), remains of a circus.

Arènes d’Arles: Source -

Vaison la Romain, Provence

Vaison-la-Romaine is a town in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France. It is about the most “Romanish” city in the whole of Provence.

The two main sites in this city are La Villasse and Puymin. La Villasse is popular for its adorable paved streets that are raised and lined with long sequences of columns. The street runs through the central district, and passes through baths, gardens, fountains and luxurious houses.

Puymin on the other hand holds the remains of the Roman theater and a private exceptional domus (a building owned in ancient time by the upper class), and a sanctuary supported by columns.

Additionally in this city is the ancient Roman bridge that spans the Ouvèze River. It serves as a link between upper medieval parts of the city and the lower parts. Visitors enjoy the unique architectural design of the bridge especially its semi-circular arch.

Another site to behold in this city is the Museum. It is located in the center of the archeological remains of Puymin. It houses some lovely artifacts and holds a marble statue of Hadrian and his wife.