Monday, June 10, 2013

The Pont du Gard

On our first day in Arles, we took a day trip to the Pont du Gard, which required catching a train to Avignon and then a bus out to this incredible aqueduct bridge, the second tallest remaining Roman structure (the Colosseum is the tallest).  At 48.8 meters tall, and spanning 272 meters, this is an impressive bridge in a beautiful location:
The arch that goes over the water is the widest one.  At 25 meters, it is one of the widest arches constructed by the Romans using a mortar-free technique.  We climbed up to several viewpoints for some other angles:
And checked out the aqueduct channel at the top of this bridge where water would have passed through:
The site of the Pont du Gard also includes a museum where we learned a number of interesting tidbits.  The Pont du Gard is just one part of a 50 km aqueduct from Uzès to the city of Nimes.  The route chosen for the aqueduct is by no means the shortest but was the most efficient in terms of elevation.  Construction began in about 19 BC, and the aqueduct supplied water to Nimes for about 300 years.  Then, from about 300-600 AD, the water was diverted for agricultural purposes before it reached the city.  After that, it was no longer in use.  The Pont du Gard withstood an incredible flood in 2002 that brought the water level up to the triangles you can see on the lowest level of arches in the first photo in this post (on either side of the widest arch).  Sure says something for Roman construction!

And finally, Kate and Paul at the Pont du Gard:

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