A Roman holiday

Roman engineering is always awe-inspiring, and the Pont du Gard is one spectacular example. An ancient Roman aqueduct bridge, it is part of a 30-mile structure built by the Romans to carry water from a spring at Uzès to the Roman colony of what is now Nîmes. Built in the 1st century AD, the Pont du Gard is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and one of the best-preserved. 

The bridge has three tiers of arches, standing 160 ft. high and carried an estimated 44,000,000 gallons of water a day to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes. It continued to be used until the 6th century. So graceful and still in great shape, it is a marvel that still inspires wonder.

Water is essential, but the Romans also understood the need to entertain the masses. (Kept them from rebelling too often.) Toward that end, the theater at Orange was a major hit for several hundred years. Unlike the theater we saw yesterday in Arles, this one is still amazingly intact, with its stage wall still standing, though not in its original glory. In the days of the Romans, this was highly decorated and served as the only piece of scenery, with props and costumes adding the rest of the magic. Sacked by the bloody Goths and spurned by the Church, the poor building stumbled up to the Middle Ages, when people started living inside it. It did have a few good years of dramatic use before that, but remained just another municipal eyesore till the last century, when it regained life as a home for the arts. It is well-used now, and serves as the heart of Orange. If walls could talk…

We had a brief detour from the wonders of Rome into the town of Uzès, which certainly has Roman roots, but also a lovely medieval flair. This was a delightful little city – immaculately clean with lovely moments around every corner. We had a great lunch in the plaza, and relaxed our weary tourist feet. Those Romans can take it out of you…

 

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