The Pont du Gard is a masterpiece of ancient architecture and one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world. Discover a grandiose monument at the heart of this Roman aqueduct’s course.
The Pont du Gard is a aqueduct bridge built by the Romans in the 1st century CE.
It is exceptional for its dimensions, at 49 metres tall it is the highest Roman aqueduct bridge in the world. It is made up of three tiers of arches one above the other (6 arches on the first level, 11 arches on the second level and, originally, 47 arches on the third), which was a rare achievement for the time.
It is remarkable for its excellent state of preservation, which is why it is admired today as a masterpiece of human creative genius. It is the only example of an ancient three tier bridge still standing today. Nearly a thousand strong workforce contributed to the construction of this colossal project, which was completed in just five years.
One of the largest major arches in the Roman world
Equivalent to the volume of the Eiffel Tower
Height of the Pont du Gard
Juxtaposed arches, a form of construction standardisation.
Built around 50 CE, during the reigns of the emperors Claudius and Nero, the aqueduct of which the Pont du Gard is a part, supplied the city of Nîmes with large quantities of pressurised water for over five centuries.
The Roman city, known as "Nemausus” at the time, was undergoing significant urban development during the 1st century that the construction of an aqueduct was decided, in keeping with the example of Rome, as capital and model for the entire Roman Empire. This achievement gave the city a high degree of prestige: fountains, spa, running water in the residences of the wealthy, and clean streets all contributed to a sense of urban well-being.
With an average descent of 25 cm per kilometre, one of the lowest ever achieved at the time, the aqueduct gravity fed 30,000 to 40,000 cubic metres of fresh water from springs located in Uzès to Nîmes, thus covering a distance of 50 kilometres. These ancient structures are regularly reinforced and strengthened.
For those interested, there is a signposted discovery trail along the remains.
Located 600 metres downstream from the bridge on the left bank of the Gardon, the Estel quarry was one of the main sources of the stone used to build the Pont du Gard. Recent excavations in this quarry have uncovered the ancient building site and its working faces thus providing a better understanding of the techniques used by the Romans. The stone blocks were transported by water and land depending on site location.
In the 18th century, when the road bridge (Pont Pitot) was constructed next to the ancient structure, the quarry was put to use again.
Despite the 18 centuries that separate these two projects, the techniques used differ very little and a non-specialist observer would have a hard time telling the difference. This site, listed as a historical monument, is closed to the public, but full-scale reconstructions can be seen in the museum.
The Pont du Gard is one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world. It is steeped in history and has been a source of inspiration to many artists.