Wandering across Languedoc in search of the Romans it comes as no surprise that they were here for 600 years. It can feel as though they never actually went away. Their monuments feats still dominate our landscape and several of our cities: bridges, aqueducts, amphitheaters, temples, bath and stretches of road that bisect the countryside. Their amphitheaters are perfect bullfights, their theatres for concerts and operas, while their roads are the basis of the ones we drive on today.
Much of the Romans’ genius lay in discovering ways of making water do exactly that they wanted.
Nîmes began to develop noticeably. The population was growing and needed water. The Pont du Gard is the most famous example, yet a less-known testimony to their skills is hidden away in the city of Nîmes itself, known as the Castellum. The Castellum was the final piece in a breathtaking feat of engineering which brought water 50 kilometers from springs further north, in Uzès, via the Pont du Gard, with a drop of no more than 12 meters from source to city – under 20 cm the kilometer!
The bridge that we see today, boldly bestriding the river Gard, is the most majestic part of that wonderful work which has remained almost of the 3rd century but was repaired many times, during the last century it was still in use as pedestrian bridge.
It is a wonderful example, not only from a technical point of view, but also from an aesthetic one, for the delicate color of the stone and for the elegance and originality of its construction. For this reason many artists, writers, poets and painters have immortalized it.
In other word, stone by stone, arch by arch, this tiny differential needed to be accurately calculated and measured with equipment about as sophisticated as a child’s ruler and piece of string. The Romans truly made engineering an art from.