Posted in History, Science, Travel

Back in Time: Pont du Gard

It’s been a while since we went back in time, so a trip to history feels long overdue. And what better way to do so than with a trip to the first century CE. To the south of France, in particular.

The Pont du Gard (literally “the Gard Bridge”) is a 31-mile long structure built by the Romans in approximately the year 40 CE to carry water from Uzès to Nîmes over the Gardon River. It is part of an aqueduct built to distribute water to fountains, baths and private homes. In 1985, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Experts say it is one of the world’s oldest and most remarkable Roman hydraulic sites.

The Details

Pont du Gard consists of three tiers of arches, measuring 160 feet high. The first tier is made up of six arches, the second of 11, and the third of 35 smaller arches. The first tier was used as a road bridge, while the water passed through the third (highest). As was characteristic of the Romans, this bridge was constructed with precise craftsmanship. No mortar was used, but 50,000 tons of limestone were (you read that right). The limestone blocks were cut so precisely that friction alone fit them together. And many of the blocks within the bridge are inscribed with instructions to the builders. For example, fronte dextra denoted “front right”.

A closer look at the Pont du Gard stones (there is a passage inside the bridge as well, seen here, upon climbing the steps). Photo via World Heritage Site.

During its use, the aqueduct carried 44,000,000 gallons of water (again, that’s no typo) over to Nîmes.

Historical facts sometimes seem mundane and irrelevant, but human intellect and inventiveness of the past shows we are capable of so much. Definitely, the Romans were at a level of their own, but at the end of the day, they were humans who excelled at their craft. Taken from another angle, history inspires because it’s our story, our achievements. The Pont du Gard proves, humans are nothing short of amazing.

Stay inspired,

Curious x Nature

Sources: Structurae, UNESCO, Pont du Gard Official Website, World Heritage Site

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3 thoughts on “Back in Time: Pont du Gard

  1. Wow that is amazing! I never knew this was a hydraulic system! So cool! Limestone rocks without mortor that is that is so neat! Thanks for another great post!! 🙂

    1. Just doing my job, bringing to light little known facts 😉 Thank you for appreciating this post and the Romans’ effort!

      The Pont du Gard is one of my favorite architectural feats. Stay tuned, I’ll be highlighting some of my others soon

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