The Pont du Gard
The Pont du Gard is a Roman aqueduct and part of a 50 km-long former water supply system to Nīmes. It is located in the Department of Gard in the South of France and crosses the River Gardon. As one of the best-preserved water channels from Roman times, it is considered to be the most important bridge construction of the ancient world and is one of the most important sights in the South of France.
The aqueduct was probably built in the 1st Century AD. The construction took about three years and was carried out by about 1,000 slaves and prisoners of war. The material used was coarse yellow limestone blocks of the same size, which were put together without using mortar. The whole thing was held in place by the pressure of the individual stones and the resulting friction. The pillars of one level were placed exactly on top of the pillars of the level below in order to reduce the load on the lower arches.
The Pont du Gard is 49 metres high and is divided into three levels that become longer and longer towards the top. The lower level is made up of six arches, the middle one of eleven. The upper level has 35 arches and a total length of 275 metres. The entire water supply system had a gradient of only 24 centimetres per kilometre over a distance of 50 kilometres. This made it possible to transport 20,000 cubic metres of water.
The entire water supply system was seriously neglected in the 4th Century. From the 9th Century it was completely unfit for use. Most of it was dismantled by the people and the stones were used for other purposes. From the Middle Ages to the 18th Century, the former aqueduct was used as a road bridge.
Today, a Visitor Centre has been established near the aqueduct. The Pont du Gard has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1985.