Nîmes notes

a picture diary from a Roman town in the south of France

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Picture taking

touristsSomehow I wanted to catch this scene, where the tourists are taking pictures of the Temple of Diana in Jardins de la Fontaine. Big cameras are passé, and hardly anyone really uses the iPad for taking photos (anymore), like the woman on the right. Nowadays popular are the cellphone cameras and again the tiny winy pocket cameras. It’s fun to observe the trends, isn’t it!


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La Tour Magne

la tour magneLa Tour Magne, or Magne Tower, is a 32 meter tall watch tower, built by the Roman’s in 15 BC. It used to have one more storey, but the highest one is now gone. Nevertheless, it’s a magnificent piece of architecture, rising up on the the Mt Cavalier of Jardins de la Fontaine. Today it houses a small museum, and from the balcony opens lovely views over the city and the surrounding countryside.

La Tour Magne is one of the three main sights of Nîmes, along with Les Arènes and Maison Carrée, and you can see the three with a combi ticket (10 euros). It was classified as Monument Historique in 1840.

When I took this photo it was the winter holidays, and lots of school children were having a picnic right in front of the tower. It’s a nice spot for a picnic, for sure!

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Porte d’Auguste at night

porte d'auguste at nightIn the Roman times this was the main entrance to the city of Nemausus. The bigger archs are for vehicules, smaller ones for pedestrians. As you can imagine already from this picture, the city of Nemausus was about half a meter lower in the ground than today’s Nîmes. The next picture gives you another angle:

porte d'auguste, from insideFrom here started the Via Domitia, or the Domitian Way, to Rome. You can imagine the traffic of those days… All the people, who have passed these gates!

The Porte d’August, also known as Porte d’Arles, was named after Augustus, who introduced the city walls to Nemausus in 15 BC. In the 14th century, it was incorporated in the fortress, which again was destroyed during the Revolution. To prevent any further damage, the Roman Gate was listed in the very first list of Monument Historique of 1840.

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Castellum divisorium

castellumAfter the Pont du Gard I wanted to show you a photo of the Castellum divisorium, a water tank, where the water of the aqueduct arrived in, and from where it was again distributed in different areas of Nemausus. There are only two such castellums left in the world; one is in Pompeii in Italy, and the other at rue de la Lampèze in Nîmes.

Here you have to use your imagination a little. The circular (5.9 m in diameter, 1.4 m deep) is the basis of a tank, and the holes are places of lead pipes carrying the water to the monuments, fountains and public baths of Nemausus. The pipes are pretty much the same type as today; you can find them at the museum  of Pont du Gard.

Later the castellum was buried under ground, and remained unnoticed until 1844, when it was discovered at the foot of Fort-Vauban. It’s been classified as a Monument Historique since 1875.