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History of the Pont du Gard

Pont du Gard & Roman aqueduct: 2000 years of history

Pont du Gard
Le Pont du Gard - © lamio - Fotolia.jpg
Panorama Aqueduct  
The Pont du Gard is the most spectacular part of the aqueduct built by the Romans in the first century AD to bring fresh water to the city of Nîmes.

Construction lasted just a dozen years and the aqueduct snaked through the small mountains and valleys of the hinterland behind Nîmes.

A public utilities work, the Pont du Gard is also a work of prestige, intended to show the superiority of the Roman civilization, then at the height of its power and glory.

The aqueduct itself is a masterpiece of engineering, testifying to the extraordinary skill of the builders of antiquity: the gradient is only 12 metres for the entire 50 kilometres, which means an average slope of 24 cm/km or 0,24 mm/metre.

These telling figures let us appreciate the technical prowess shown by the Roman engineers who had to work with great precision to allow the water to flow by the pull of gravity all the way to Nîmes.

Map of the aqueduct

Pont du Gard
Arches of the Pont du Gard
Top level of the Pont du Gard

The Nîmes aqueduct was without doubt built in the 1st century, between the years 40 and 60 AD.

The aqueduct gathered water from the spring at the Fontaine d'Eure near Uzès. It snaked through the scrub land for nearly 50 km, skirting the hills or passing through them in underground channels and crossing the valleys by way of elevated constructions.

Many ruins of the aqueduct remain in the surrounding countryside. Marked trails around the Pont du Gard let you discover them.

Aqueduct Pont du Gard

Remains of the Aqueduct Pont du Gard
Remains of the roman aqueduct
Remains of the Aqueduct Pont du Gard
Damaged during the barbarian invasions, the aqueduct ceased functioning for good in the 9th century. It was only used as a bridge for crossing the Gardon river.
In 1743 it operated as a road bridge.
In the 19th century, the monument, worn by time and erosion, risked collapsing.
Considerable work to consolidate and restore it was undertaken under the Second Empire.

In 2000, the State financed, as part of a 'Grand Site National' operation and with the assistance of local authorities, UNESCO and the European Union, a project of works on the site to ensure the preservation of this exceptional monument, at risk due to the great flow of tourists. It was decided to reserve for pedestrians only access to it and to improve the infrastructures at visitors' disposal with, amongst other spaces, a museum, an outdoor trail "Mémoires de Garrigue", a recreational space devoted to fun educational activities for 5 to 12 year olds, temporary expositions and a cinema where the Pont du Gard is celebrated.
Museum at the Pont du Gard
Museum of the Pont du Gard: construction of the bridge
Museum of the Pont du Gard: history of the Pont du Gard

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