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Roman Sites & Museums in Occitanie

Today the Occitanie administrative region stretches from the lower Rhône in the east to the Pyrénées in the west. Historically it was a much bigger area in which the Occitan language was spoken. The modern-day region was part of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis; named after the provincial capital, founded in 118 BC, Colonia Narbo Martius (present day Narbonne). Initially, the Romans secured this area to provide safe movement between Rome and Spain, land they acquired following their victory in the Second Punic War. The Via Domitia was their first building project. Parts of it can be seen and visited today. But there is much more Roman archaeology to this region than the remains of a Roman road.

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Roman Sites in Occitanie

Arena of Nimes

The amphitheatre in Nîmes is widely regarded as one of the best preserved Roman amphitheatres. So well preserved is the structure that it is still used for a variety of events, although since 2009 it is in the process of being restored – a project that will last at least 25 years. It was built around 100 AD, shortly after the Colosseum in Rome, with an estimated seating capacity of 24,000. The amphitheatre was just inside the city wall, the position of which is marked in the paving surrounding the arena.

Lattara Archaeological Site & Museum

Pliny writes of a small fishing village in tidal marshes, but excavations begun in the 1960s soon revealed that the settlement was much more substantial. What started out as a shoreline landing stage for Etruscan, Punic and Greek traders in the 6th century BC developed into a major Roman port of more than 12 ha. By the 2nd century AD the settlement was abandoned due to rising sea levels, it was subsequently covered in silt. As an ongoing excavation, the site is rarely accessible, but it is visible from the onsite museum, which is well worth a visit.

Le Castellum Aquae - Nîmes

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 Nemausus. Although the ruins seem quite simple and unassuming and tucked away in a side street of Nîmes, there is only one other castellum divisorium from the Roman world that is better preserved, and that is at Pompeii.

Maison Carrée

The Maison Carrée is the only Roman temple to be so completely preserved. The Corinthian-style temple was built by Augustus, and dedicated to two of his adopted sons – Caius and Lucius. It was placed on a podium overlooking the city’s forum or public gathering place. Other architectural features of the forum can be seen today. By virtue of its size the temple would have dominated not only the forum, but also the city, reminding locals of the rule of Rome. Napoleon had the neoclassical Église de la Madeleine in Paris modelled on the Maison Carrée.

Medieval Carcassonne - La Cité

The medieval fortified city of Carcassonne, known locally as la Cité, is one of the most popular destination for visitors to the south of France. The citadel has been occupied since prehistoric times, but it was the Romans who first built a series of walls, parts of which can still be seen. These were added to by the Visigoths, Crusaders and other. As spectacular as the imposing walls are, much of what we see today is the result of 19th century restorations, which are not accurate. But well worth a visit, even with the tourists, for the Roman and Medieval ramparts, the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus, and the medieval castle & museum.

Pont du Gard

Today Pont du Gard is a popular tourist attraction at a spot on the Gardon River favoured by locals to pass the time on a sunny day. Back in the 1st century AD the three tiered aqueduct was a critical part of a 50-kilometre long system that carried water from a spring just outside Uzès to the Roman colony of Nemausus, modern-day Nîmes. Roman architects created a technical masterpiece, standing over 50 m high, and 275 m long at the highest point. The lower level served as bridge well into the Middle Ages, long after the aqueduct ceased transporting water.

Via Domitia, Narbonne

In the centre of Narbonne’s town square is a cleverly exposed section of Roman road. This was the Via Domitia, the first Roman road to have been built in Gaul and it enabled the movement of soldiers and traders between Italy and Spain. The town of Narbo Martius was established here in 118 BC, taking advantage of the junction between the Via Aquitania and the Via Domitia, as well as the potential then for a port. It was a successful colony and later became the capital of Gallia Narbonensis.

Museums With Roman Collections in Occitanie

Musée de la Romanité

Opposite the Roman amphitheater in the historic centre of Nîmes stands a striking and modern building. As if covered in a white toga. This is the new Roman museum, opened in 2018. Using state-of-the-art multimedia presentation techniques and an extensive range of archaeological artefacts, a comprehensive permanent exhibition tells the story of the development of Roman Nîmes. From its Iron Age beginnings to medieval times, and the study of Roman archaeology itself.

Interactive Map of Roman Sites & Museums in Occitanie

You can do at least two things with the following interactive map. First, by switching the display of the map to satellite mode (you can uncheck ‘labels’ to get a clutter free map), you can get a street view of most of the sites. Simply click and drag the yellow pegman (lower right) onto the map and drop it on a blue line or dot to get street-view at that point.

Second, you can also use the markers on the map to save that site or museum to your itinerary. Click on a marker to see the site’s information box. If you are logged in you will see the option to add that place to your itineraries and travel lists. Login or register to use these features.


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