France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Roman Ruins, Nîmes, France
Nîmes was an important Roman city, and remains of its glory days can be visited.

 
   

 

Nîmes was an important city in Roman times, reaching its peak in about the 1st century AD. Its two most noteworthy sites today are the Maison Carrée and the huge Amphitheater.

The Maison Carrée (Square House) stands proudly in the center of town. Dating from the 1st century AD, it was dedicated to Caius and Lucius Caesar, adopted grandsons of Emperor Augustus.

Nîmes tourist information describes it as "the only fully preserved temple of the ancient world." Its fine proportions and Corinthian columns make a harmonious presentation.

The Maison Carrée has been used for various functions since the 11th century. It served as a consulate, a stable, apartments, and a church, as well as archives and a museum.

The roof was restored in 1992, using hand made tiles and ancient methods. The facades were cleaned and restored, a long process that was completed in 2010.

In 1993 the square where it is located was modified by the creation of the Carré d'Art, a contemporary art museum.

Walk from the Maison Carrée through Old Nîmes, with its wonderful narrow streets, and you'll soon emerge at the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle and the Place des Arènes. The Arènes, or Amphitheater, is truly magnificent.

  Nimes Amphitheater, France
  For a sense of scale, note the pedestrian to the left.

Also dating from the end of the 1st century AD, the Amphitheater was one of the largest of Roman Gaul. It could seat more than 23,000 spectators for gladiator events and other spectacles.

Today it is one of the largest and best preserved amphitheaters in the world. Two stories high, 133 meters (436 feet) long and 101 meters (331 feet) wide, it is an impressive structure.

It is actively used, for everything from bullfights to concerts to sporting events.

During the Middle Ages, it was made into a fortress where residents could shelter in times of danger. Later, the vast interior was filled with private houses, chapels, and other structures; these were demolished early in the 19th century to restore the historic appearance of the monument.

As a major Roman city, Nîmes also had an impressive walled enclosure, of which two gates remain today: Porte Auguste and Porte de France. You can also visit the Tour Magne, the oldest Roman structure in Nîmes, located on the Mont Cavalier in the Jardins de la Fontaine.


About Nîmes

What to See & Do in Nîmes

Nîmes Tourist Information

Jardins de la Fontaine

Nîmes Market

About Provence

About France

 

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Maison Carrée, Nimes, France

Above, Maison Carrée, Nîmes.

Below, Fountain at the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle, with the Amphitheater in the background.

 

Nimes Fountain, France

   
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