Walking Tour of Nîmes

15:00 Tuesday 24 July

Numbers are limited so please book by emailing catac@it.murdoch.edu.au.

Nîmes is an amazing town with a glorious past and many splendid Roman monuments. The 3 hour walking tour includes the Arènes, Maison Carrée with a multimedia spectacle, the Jardins de la Fontaine, Temple de Diane and a commentary on the Tour Magne.

The tour costs €10, which includes €5.9 admission charge to the Arènes, €1.6 for the multimedia spectacle in the Maison Carrée, and the services of an English-speaking professional tour guide. The tour begins at 15:00, meeting at the visitors entrance to the Arènes (Arena), situated near the La Brasserie Restaurant des Arenes. The tour guide is Claire Lise Creissen.

The Nîmes Arènes is the best preserved Roman amphitheatre in the world. It dates back to the end of the 1st century AD and is a perfect illustration of the degree of perfection attained by Roman engineers in designing and constructing this type of extremely complex building. It is oval in shape, and measures 133m long, 101m wide and 21m high. The façade consists of two levels of sixty superposed arches and an attic, separated by a cornice. There was seating capacity for nearly 24,000 spectators.

The visitor passes through the terraces to the interior galleries via the arena, and consequently has an overall view of the architecture and the history of the Nîmes Arènes. The audioguide is an essential medium for discovering the Arènes, as it provides details of the history of the buildings, and brings the ancient stones back to life.

The Maison Carrée is the only ancient temple to have been completely preserved - it is 26 metres long, 15m wide and 17m high. This civic Roman temple was built by Agrippa, who died in 12 B.C. It was then dedicated to his two sons, Caius and Lucius, heirs of Augustus who both died very young. It was built of local limestone. 

Inside the Maison Carrée, the multimedia spectacle (French with English subtitles) plunges the visitor into Nîmes’ heroic past. Visitors are given special glasses to watch the giant panoramic screen, which immerses the visitor into the daily life of an inhabitant of Nîmes during the Roman Empire, the Middle Ages or during the contemporary festivals.

The Jardins de la Fontaine (Gardens of the Source), ornamented with vases and statues, was one of the first public gardens in Europe. It is among the highest rated parks in Europe and among the most spectacular. The gardens were laid out in the 18th century in the area of the former fortified ramparts and include the ruins of an ancient sanctuary of a sacred spring which founded Nîmes (Nemausus). The gardens extend over several levels, the lowest forming the water-basins and the waterways joining them. Groups of life-size Baroque statues give atmosphere to this attractive feature.

The Temple de Diana is the most romantic and also the most enigmatic of the monuments in Nîmes. It was doubtless associated with the imperial sanctuary but its precise function is unknown. Its remnants were found in about 1739 during works in the area.


Sources: http://www.arenes-nimes.com, http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildings/Maison_Carree.html, http://www.frenchentree.com, http://www.ot-nimes.fr/english_nimes/decouvrir_nimes/les_sites_nimois/romanite.html, http://www.planetware.com/nimes/jardins-de-la-fontaine-f-lr-jafo.htm