Today was a big day in regards to what ground we had to cover. As we had spent a whole hour driving around Montpellier trying to find our hotel the night before, we decided to give Montpellier a wide berth and drive straight to Nimes. However, on the way to the car, we had to walk through the city square, so I quickly took this photo as a memory of a city of pedestrianised streets....
uilt by Romans to make holy water from a spring available year-round. Catch basins were created. Doric columns were used.
After exploring the temple, we decided to walk up to the tower at the top - the Tour Magne. The walk was quite pretty but very steep - I had to take a rest halfway up, but I didn't mind as it was really pretty....
constructed at the highest point of the city, Mont Cavalier. It dominates the whole plain and is a focal point for lines of communication.
The temple owes its preservation to the fact that it was rededicated as Christian Church in the fourth century, saving it from the widespread destruction of temples that followed the adoption of Christianity as Rome's official state religion. It subsequently became a meeting hall for the city's consuls, a canon's house, a stable for government-owned horses during the French Revolution and a storehouse for the city archives. It became a museum after 1823.
The contemporary coat of arms of the city of Nîmes includes a crocodile chained to a palm tree with the inscription COLNEM, for Colonia Nemausus, meaning the 'colony' or 'settlement' of Nemausus, the local Celtic god of the Volcae Arecomici.
We then walked on to the Ancient Roman Ampitheatre. This is still used today for concerts and shows. It is also having some restoration work done on it. I managed to get in free because I was deaf. Anne had already seen several roman ampitheatres so she stayed with Alexia while I explored...
Built in 1 AD. with a capacity for 24,000 (the Coliseum in Rome held 80,000), the Romans covered the arena with a canvas cover, the "velum." In a modern experiment, it took only five minutes to evacuate the entire amphitheater. All the arches are entrances and exits.
It was used for gladiator combat, but no lions. There was assigned seating according to status (women and slaves at the top.) "Arena" means "sand" which was needed to absorb the blood.
The arena is in excellent condition because, during the Middle Ages, the locals built houses in the arena. It was restored in the 19th century. Today the arena is used for bullfights, especially at Pentecost, and opera, as well as auto shows and tennis matches.
The Amphitheatre at Nimes, known locally as the "Arenes," is one of the best preserved of the Roman world. It is an ellipse measuring 133 by 101 metres. The outer wall has two rows of arches superimposed, with a main entrance surmounted by a triangular pediment which is decorated with the foreparts of bulls sculptured in stone. The spectator area, or "cavea," which surrounds the arena, is divided into 60 radiating segments which each correspond to two superimposed arches as seen from the outside. The 34 terraced rows, on which 24 000 spectators could sit, are divided into four "moeniana" separated by a circulation corridor and by a sort of parapet or "ibalteus." Each moenianum was reserved to a particular class of society and served by a vaulted ring-gallery and regular access points, or vomitories. The galleries themselves are linked by stairs. This circulation system was designed to avoid any risk of confusion or overcrowding during the movement in or out of the spectators. The arena floor, separated from the cavea by the "podium" wall, concealed two galleries in heavy masonry crossing each other at right angles, and which probably served as the "wings." They were once wrongly considered to be the conduits by which water was brought to was out the bloodied arena.
In reality, the Nimes Amphitheatre was probably used most often for gladiatorial combats. The low height of the podium would seem, in fact, not to have been high enough to allow the use of wild beasts.