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An ancient work of art

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An ancient work of art

A true masterpiece of ancient architecture, the Pont du Gard aqueduct is one of the most beautiful Roman constructions in the region. Discover more about this startling monument as you follow the course of its history through the ages.

Pont du Gard, a masterpiece of ancient architecture

The Pont du Gard is a Roman monument built halfway through the 1st century AD. It is the principal construction in a 50 km long aqueduct that supplied the city of Nîmes, formerly known as Nemausus, with water. Built as a three-level aqueduct standing 50 m high, it allowed water to flow across the Gardon river.

In essence, the bridge is constructed out of soft yellow limestone blocks, taken from a nearby quarry that borders the river. The highest part of the structure is made out of breeze blocks joined together with mortar. It is topped by a device designed to bear the water channel, whose stone slabs are covered with calcium deposits.

In designing this three-storey bridge, which measures 360 m at its longest point along the top, the Roman architects and hydraulic engineers created a technical masterpiece that stands today as a work of art.

As a result of numerous scientific studies, we now know that an impressive volume of rock was needed to complete the construction.

Moreover, archaeologists also uncovered evidence of how well organized the project was. They found numbering on the stones, points of support for scaffolding, and evidence of the use of hoists.

A few figures :

Total weight : 50,000 tons

Total volume : 20,000 m3 equivalent to solid volume of Eiffel Tower

Technical Construction : rolls of juxtaposed arches which is a form of standardization of the construction

Major arch gap : 25 m (one of the greatest of the Roman world)

Pont du GardLe Pont du Gard, vue aérienne (Anna Preiss)

The Pont du Gard, a masterpiece of Roman ingenuity

L'intérieur de la canalisation (Yann de Fareins)

The Pont du Gard is a Roman monument built halfway through the 1st century AD. It is the principal construction in a 50 km long aqueduct that supplied the city of Nîmes, formerly known as Nemausus, with water. Built as a three-level aqueduct standing 50 m high, it allowed water to flow across the Gardon river..

In essence, the bridge is constructed out of soft yellow limestone blocks, taken from a nearby quarry that borders the river. The highest part of the structure is made out of breeze blocks joined together with mortar. It is topped by a device designed to bear the water channel, whose stone slabs are covered with calcium deposits.

In designing this three-storey bridge, which measures 360 m at its longest point along the top, the Roman architects and hydraulic engineers created a technical masterpiece that stands today as a work of art.

As a result of numerous scientific studies, we now know that an impressive volume of rock was needed to complete the construction. The figures are impressive: over 21,000 cubic metres of rock, weighing 50,400 tonnes!

Moreover, archaeologists also uncovered evidence of how well organized the project was. They found numbering on the stones, points of support for scaffolding, and evidence of the use of hoists.

The quarrymen’s labour

Materials used in the construction of the Pont du Gard were obtained from the Estel quarry, situated roughly 600 m away from the monument on the Gardon’s left bank. The rock found there is a soft coarse yellow limestone, referred to locally today as 'pierre de Vers'.

The blocks of limestone were extracted using picks and sharp metal corners. Around 120,000 cubic metres of cut stone were extracted, not only to build the Pont du Gard, but also to construct the various bridges and culvert supports that went into making the aqueduct that stands downstream on the right bank.

Another advantage of the stone quarry's location on the edge of the Gardon river was that the rock could be transported by boat to the building site on the river’s right bank.

Carrière de l'Estel, rive gauche (Stéphane Barbier)