Idea #724 – Rediscovering the Colonia Augusta Nemausus, the ancient Nîmes
The foundation of Nîmes dates back to the Ancient period; Strabo and Pliny report that a Celtic tribe would have established itself in the region and would have founded, on the territory of the city of Nîmes, the ancient capital of the Arecomic Volques. During the Second Iron Age, Nîmes was one of the main oppida of the Mediterranean Celtic. This tribe established in particular a sanctuary at the deified source on the site of the source of the Fontaine, at the foot of Mount Cavalier, and built the Magne tower at its summit.
Coming under Roman rule on its own, the city became a Roman colony, founded by Emperor Augustus. The Colonia Augusta Nemausus was subsequently endowed with numerous monuments and a 6 km long wall, enclosing the third urban area of Gaul, 220 ha, and reconnecting with the Magne tower, which will be rebuilt. From this Roman period, Nîmes preserves monuments such as the arena, the Maison Carrée or the Magne tower at the foot of which is the site of the Sanctuary of the Fountain, with the temple of Diana. This rich ancient past has earned it the nickname “French Rome”.
The current city has grown out of its historic center, called the Escutcheon. The old medieval wall has been replaced by wide shady boulevards, framed by a double line of centuries-old trees. This urban center, dense and saturated, presents a charming maze of narrow streets, overlooking squares and squares, ideal for strolling. They are punctuated by architectural treasures, churches and chapels, or mansions built between the 13th and 19th centuries, constituting a very interesting architectural ensemble. In 2012, Nîmes was included on the UNESCO tentative list.
The city’s emblem is inspired by the iconography of the ace, a coin minted in Nîmes in the early days of our era, on the reverse of which appears a crocodile chained to a palm tree which symbolizes the submission of Egypt by Octavian , after the battle of Actium. The first historians imagined that after the Egyptian campaign, some of Augustus’ veteran soldiers settled in Nimes and imported these symbols with them.
Where is it ?
Nîmes, Gard, France