Roman monuments in Nîmes: the amphitheater, Maison Carrée, Temple of Diana and the Tour Magne
|Roman Amphitheater in Nîmes|
After three days of revelry during the Feria des Vendanges (Grape Harvest Festival), Nîmes returned to normal yesterday. Most of the vendors selling paella, sangria and colorful oil paintings had already packed their tents during the night and moved on to the next big event. The Roman amphitheater, however, remained. Even though governments, wars and festivals have come and gone, the arena is still there, just as it was when the city was called Colonia Augusta Nemausus in honor of Julius Caesar's son, Auguste.
During my audio guided tour of the amphitheater, I placed my hand on one of the polished stones and wished, as most people do while visiting historical monuments, that it could talk. Not only would it tell tales of gladiators and pageantry but also of a complex Gallo-Roman society, whose citizens were seated in the 24,000 arena according to their social status.
Here are a couple of the things that I found to be particularly interesting:
- There were female gladiators.
- "Arena" is the Roman word for sand.
- Sand was used in the arena to deaden the sound of the animals' hooves, to soften the landing when a gladiator fell and to soak up the blood of the injured.
When I went to the bullfight on Saturday, the amphitheater looked much as it would have when it was constructed nearly 2,000 years ago. Regrettably, the large material banners that provided shade for the spectators are no longer there.
|The audience watching a bullfight in the Roman amphitheater in Nîmes.|
Roman monuments in Nîmes include the Temple of Diana, the Tour Magne and the Maison Carrée (Square House), which influenced the design of the Madeleine Church in Paris and Thomas Jefferson's design of the Virginia state capitol. (Thank you, Joseph, for commenting and calling my attention to my omission of the Madeleine Church!).
|Maison Carrée (Square House)|
|Temple of Diana|