Monday, May 26, 2014

Roman Ruins: Pont du Gard et Orange

One of the challenges of travel is trying to decide what to see, and what not to see. While this is often a function of personal interests...I generally prefer urban places and buildings to natural monuments....there are some 3 star attractions that one just has to see. 

The Pont du Gard aqueduct near Avignon and Nimes, is one such attraction. It is considered one of Europe's best Roman sights and when you see it, even though you've seen photos of it, it is most impressive. How did they do that? Especially without the tools we have today.

The more one learns about it, the more impressive it is. It appears the Romans determined what would be the likely flood design levels in future years and constructed the bridge to withstand even the greatest floods. This has been proven out over the centuries.  It's a remarkable engineering feat and well worth visiting.
Not only is the aqueduct old...this olive tree is reportedly 1200 years old!

The Romans left protrusions to hold the scaffolding anticipating that in the future it would be necessary to climb up and repair the structure.

We have visited sound and light shows at ancient monuments in the past. They seem like a corny idea, but are usually visually most impressive.
Another attraction is the Roman Theatre in Orange. It is considered the best preserved in existence and the only one in Europe with its acoustic wall still standing. We did a tour and were most impressed with its history over the ages. At one time it was filled in with housing; at another time portions were disassembled so that the materials could be used elsewhere.
From the outside, I was not that impressed....
However, once inside, it was a different story.

I can just hear the electrical contractor: "Where should I run these wires?" And his boss said, "Oh, just remove a few stones if necessary. No one will notice."
There's a restaurant in a portion of the structure.
In more recent times it has been used for concerts and Sally was disappointed to learn she will miss Phantom of the Opera that will be playing this summer.

The surrounding buildings do not reflect, in any way, the architectural character of the theatre!
While we were disappointed with Orange itself...and subsequently moved on rather than stay the night as planned, we were glad that we made the journey to see both the Pont du Gard and the Orange Theatre.

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