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Pont du Gard: the most beautiful Roman aqueduct in France

The splendid Roman aqueduct of the Pont du Gard is a truly fascinating work. This masterpiece of Roman engineering is located about 25 km from the city of Nimes and 22 km from Avignon. Uzes the starting point of the aqueduct is 16 km from the Pont du Gard. The structure is the symbol of the power of Roman civilization. The name of the architect who designed and built it has unfortunately not come down to us. This monument has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites since 1985.

The Pont du Gard was built shortly after the start of the Christian era to allow the Nimes aqueduct (which had a total length of almost 50 km) to cross the Gardon river. The Roman architects and hydraulic engineers who designed this bridge, which has a height of 49 meters on three levels – the longest of which measures 275 meters – created a technical and artistic masterpiece.

The structure has a height of 49 meters and is composed of three rows of overlapping arches, which become gradually narrower. The first level is 6 meters thick, 22 meters high and 142 meters long and consists of 6 arches. The second level is 4 meters thick, 20 meters high and 242 meters long and consists of 11 arches. The third level is 3 meters thick, 7 meters high and 275 meters long and consists of 47 arches that support the canal where the waters flowed.

At the first level, a road passes, and at the top of the third level the water conduit passes. This conduit is 1.8 meters high and 1.2 meters wide and has a gradient of 0.4 percent.

A MASTERPIECE OF ROMAN ENGINEERING

The sole purpose of the aqueduct was to transport the water in pipes from the source, located more than 50 km away, to the city of Nimes. The Pont du Gard represents the most spectacular part of the aqueduct built by the Romans in the 1st century AD. to bring fresh water to the city of Nimes. The aqueduct of Nimes was one of the most important hydraulic works carried out by the Romans who took about 15 years to complete it between 40 and 60 AD. This happened under the government of the emperors Claudius and Nero.

Damaged during the barbarian invasions, the aqueduct stopped working in the 9th century. It has since been used as a bridge to cross the Gardon River. The larger stone blocks weigh around 6 tons. The aqueduct exploited the waters of the rich source of Eure, near Uzès. Along its winding path of almost 50 km, the aqueduct crossed valleys and hills by means of underground canals and bridges. Many are the visible remains of these structures along its path. Some marked trails around the Pont du Gard allow you to discover them.

Between the beginning (source of Eure in Uzès (Gard) 71.25 m.) and the arrival point (Castellum, rue de la Lampèze in Nimes 58.95 m.) of the aqueduct, the difference in height is just 12 meters. This makes it an average slope of 24 cm / km or 0.24 mm / meter. This makes it clear about the ability of the ancient Romans. A beautiful 7 km long path follows the remains of the aqueduct. Along this path it is possible to walk up to the remains of the Pont Rou with its concretions, and to the arches of Valive, then reaching the Pont du Gard and the Sartanette valley.

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