The Roman Empire in Provence
Provence has inherited a rich heritage from the Roman empire – it was after all their name for the region, Provincia Romana, that gives us ‘Provence’ today. The most important city of the province was Arles which became a wealthy regional capital, trading port and military garrison. That wealth can be seen today in the monuments that still remain – the 1st cent AD amphitheatre, the theatre, necropolis of Alychamps and the bizarre crypto portico tunnel. Emperor Constantine loved Arles, and his importance as the first Roman emperor to embrace Christianity is witnessed most notably by the great St Triomphine cathedral.
Lying near to Arles, Nimes boasts a Roman amphitheatre from the same period as that of Arles, and also an important 1st cent BC temple dedicated to the Imperial family. Other Roman sights that may be enjoyed are the extraordinary aqueduct of the Pont du Gard designed to carry water 160’ above a river valley, the theatre in Orange whose stage wall is almost intact, and the perfectly proportioned arch and 60’ mausoleum at the entrance to the town of Glanum, a city that has disappeared today from the map.
An ideal place to stay for this itinerary would be Arles or its surrounding countryside.