Author: Thomas Dowson

York’s Captivating Past in 48 Hours: What to See & Why

Standing on the Medieval walls, the sun began to set over this captivating city. In the distance, rising above headlights, was York Minster. After just a day we had been spoilt. The Jorvik Viking centre had brought us the sights, sounds and even smells of 10th century York. While a walking tour of the city had dazzled us with history around every corner. One thing was for sure … with Sunday yet to come, we still had a lot to see. York has been on my list of historic places to visit for a long time. I’ve watched countless...

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Porta Augusta & Porte de France, Nîmes

DESTINATION  Europe > France > Languedoc-Roussillon > Porta Augusta & Porte de France, Nîmes The only surviving Roman gates in the Augustan wall that surrounded Nemausus. There are two gates surviving from the Roman wall that surrounded Nemausus (present-day Nîmes): Porte de France and Porta Augusta. Port de France has a single arch, which straddles Rue Porte de France. Above the arch are the remains of a blind gallery that is decorated with Tuscan pilasters. Semi-circular towers would have flanked the gate. Porta Augusta was a more substantial gate with four arches. Two larger, central arches were intended for vehicles while the smaller and shorter two side arches would have been used by pedestrians. A Latin inscription on Porta Augusta states the gate was constructed by Augustus in 16 BC. Of the two this was the more important gate, as it stood on the Via Domitia – coming from present-day Beaucaire, the Via Domitia crossed the town and continued on to Spain. Surviving features on the gate include Corinthian pilasters, niches and bull motifs. On either side of the gate there would have been towers, the approximate position of these is marked on the pavement. Where in Nîmes are the two Augustan Gates? Porta Augusta is on the corner of Boulevard Amiral Courbet and Rue Nationale, while Porte de France is on Rue Porte de France, between Rue du...

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Castellum Aquae, Nîmes

DESTINATION  Europe > France > Languedoc-Roussillon > Castellum Aquae - Nîmes A fine example of a Roman castellum, one of only two surviving in such remarkable condition. A castellum is a Roman structure that was situated at the end of an aqueduct, where the water was delivered to a basin and then dispersed. Le Castellum Aquae in Nîmes (also called the castellum divisorium de Nîmes) is at the end of the 50 kilometre aqueduct (known as the Nîmes Aqueduct) that brought water from from a spring near Uzès, the Eure Fountain, to what was then the Roman city of...

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Roman Nîmes – Nemausus

DESTINATION  Europe > France > Languedoc-Roussillon > Roman Nîmes - Nemausus In and around Nîmes are some of the finest and best preserved Roman monuments. Although the city of Nîmes has evidence of human occupation going back a few thousand years, it is the Roman monuments for which the city is best known. Certain features are not only well preserved, they are amongst the finest examples of their kind from the Roman era. The so-called Maison Carrée, for example, is the only remaining Roman temple in the world that is preserved in its entirety. What we today call Nîmes...

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Gran Canaria: In search of More than Winter Sun, Sea & Sand

Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa, is a volcanic island that boasts an annual average temperature of 24°C. Not surprisingly then Gran Canaria is the place to go for winter sun. Given the archipelago’s location, it lies on a nautical crossroads of sorts between Mediterranean Europe and the Americas, the Cape and the East Indies. Consequently the island has a fascinating past stretching back some 3,000 years at least, that has come to shape the island’s culture and cuisine. Join me as I attempt to shake off any impending winter blues by...

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