When in Rome?

Being in the south of France puts history at your step. I must admit history was never my forte.  I’ve had a lot to learn. For example, the Medieval period and Middle Ages are exchangeable terms in European history. This time period refers to the end of the Roman Empire until the beginning of the Renassaince, around AD 500 – 1500. Prior to this time, the Roman Empire encompassed all of Southern Europe and more. So, it’s actually no great surprise to see so much evidence of the Roman influence along with Medieval buildings in this area of France. And that’s my history lesson for today.

Some of the main strongholds of Rome are cities within an easy drive from Pierrelatte. Places such as the Pont du Gard aqueduct, Orange,  Vaison la Romaine, and Avignon. I’ll share a bit about some of the villages and sites around here.

Pont du Gard is a well preserved Roman aqueduct built around 19 BC. It is believed to have provided 9,000,000 gallons of water a day to Nimes, one of the largest cities of the time. Imagine that!  
The river also flows under the aqueduct. It is possible to have access to all three levels of the bridge, if you get to the site in time for the tour. I missed it! The last group came through as I rushed to the top.

 Maybe I shouldn’t have taken time for a picture. You can access the site on both sides of the river. The top tier tour started on the side opposite from where we were.

   
Some people rent kayaks to get another perspective on this magnificent site. Our view from the lowest tier was still outstanding.

Looking out from the bridge. 

   
Looking directly up.

 When we left Pierrelatte it was cold and windy. When we arrived at Pont du Gard, it was warm, no wind, we stripped off scarves and sweaters. We had no idea it would be a good day for a swim on the beach opposite. 

Another amazing site from the Roman Empire is in the village of Orange. As you enter this city, you are ‘greeted’ by a Roman arch that looks like the ‘Arc de Triomph’ in Paris. The Orange arch is said to have inspired Napolein’s Arc de Triomph in Paris. This arch in Orange was erected in 19 AD. 

   
    
 
The carvings on the facade represent victories of the emporer, on the sea and land, and are meant to make would be invaders think twice before attempting a military invasion.

Another relic of Rome in Orange is the theatre. This structure was built early in the first century AD. It’s the best preserved Roman theatre in Europe and the only one with it’s acoustic wall still standing. Theatre was one of the ways of spreading the Roman culture to the colonies of the empire, keeping the locals entertained and happy. Everyone went to the theatre. Of course your seat was based on your social status. Sometimes performances lasted a full day. 

The theatre was closed for long periods beginning in AD 391 and used for military operations, housing for townspeople and even a prison. During the 19th century efforts to recover the theatre began. These have continued and the theatre is still in use today.

 Entering the Orange Roman Theatre.
Statue of Caesar on the acoustic wall.
    
Seats are hard and cold! The theatre can seat 10,000.

 

Vaison la Romaine is a village split in two by the Ouveze River. A Roman bridge connects the newer area of the village, which is home to a large Roman ruin site, to the old hilltop area of the village. The original Roman town was as large as the village of today. Much of today’s village has been built atop the Roman ruins. 

The ruins in Vaison la Romaine are home to another ancient Roman theatre which seats 6,000 compared to the 10,000 capacity of the Orange theatre. Vaison la Romaine’s theatre is also lacking the acoustic wall. However, as in Orange, the theatre is still in use today.

Headed to the theatre.

   
Up the hill and through the tunnel.

    
Approaching the entrance.

    
 
View from the top. Take your seat.

   
 Ruins of the acoustic wall.

The Roman Bridge connecting to the hill-top village is a 55 foot Roman arch built in the first century. This bridge has survived floods that have wiped out newer construction.

   
 Both of these pictures are from the old hill-top village side of the bridge.

Doug took a break as I hiked up through the old village. As in most old walled, medieval villages the cobbled streets are very narrow. At the top of the hill was the Chateau Comtal. This was once the home of a prince-bishop who had the hilltop chateau built here in the 12th century to escape an attack by the Count of Toulouse. The townspeople followed and built homes within the wall under the chateau for protection. It’s quiet and picturesque.

   
    
    
    
Chateau on the hill-top. Last 100 yards was walking on this rocky surface.

 Views from the top.

  

Yes, vineyards are everywhere.

 A French woman offered to take my picture at the top. Here’s to hilltop experiences.   

 
Well friends, my iPad needs to be charged so I’ll leave you for now.

   

It seems every French village has an Office of Tourism.

   
  

  
Bonne journée.


4 thoughts on “When in Rome?

  1. Great great pictures. Brings back memories. Love ya

  2. Amazing. The buildings remind me of Pillars of the Earth, how endless the construction and how labor intensive. I guess we could say, They don’t build tham like they used to, and to last forever. Your trip is so fascinating. Walking on cobblestones and up steep steps makes me remember how my legs and feet used to hurt. Enjoy. You will never regret your journey. The Lord continues to bless you real good. Love you lots and that handsome man you are traveling with!

  3. Beautiful scenery and what an exceptional experience! You both are looking very well and happy – so glad you’re getting this opportunity to learn and enjoy!

  4. Art & MerrieLynn

    Thank you for the history lesson as well as another journey. Amazing architecture!
    Keep sharing, love ya

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s