Nimes, where I spent a lovely afternoon on my way from Girona to Marseille, is a city that takes its Roman heritage seriously. The whole place is either classical or neo-classical, seemingly, and it has several really fine Roman buildings, the aforementioned coliseum (colloseum), a broken tower from the old roman wall and a lovely temple building, the Maison Carrée well worth its civic pride. Its also the whitest city I’ve ever seen or heard of – building wise. I probably only saw four or five colored buildings in the whole old city. This seems to be a nod to its classical origins – ironic because in roman times all the white marble would have been brightly colored. Still, its a lovely effect. It was a stunningly bright day for a photographic ramble and I sincerely appreciated all three featured time periods: the roman ruins, the 19th century neoclassical buildings and avenues and the modernist interventions which have been jauntily placed to offset the historic sites.
The main avenue outside the train station immediately shows the city’s interest in order … and white marble
All the buildings are equal in height, coordinating their neoclassical facades.
The Palais du Justice is an obvious reference to the roman temple.
And yet they aren’t afraid to throw a little modernism and wimsey into the mix
These unstructured topiary type vines reminded me of Andy Goldsworthy designs
This is the tourist info booth (closed on Saturday).
Similarly, this is the art center across from the temple.
Its actually your first view if you approach from the train station – it serves as a sign post.
Maison Carrée here!
Its both a literal and figurative reflection of the temple.
I don’t quite know how this can be so well preserved.
I loved the massive scale of the base.
Even if its imposing heft isn’t taken that seriously in our irreverent age.
I’m not sure if this represents a modern versus ancient piece or just a stronger and weaker piece of stone. Thoughts?
So THIS is what they mean by Corinthian Columns.
I feel like I never quite understood before.
The steepness of the steps (almost even rise and run) may be just efficiency but it certainly gives a sense of grandeur to the entry.
And the day could not have been more beautiful for photos.
I swung back one more time as the sun was setting to catch this.
Most of the rest of themain town is neoclassical. The references are obvious I should think.
It obviously was having a heyday around the turn of the century because the city planning seems heavily indebted to Haussmann’s Paris re-design.
The tower (part of the former roman wall) is set off in a city park.
The more modern interior steps (1800s) are still impressively aged to American eyes.
Even in the more humble parts of town, all the buildings are white stone and white plaster.
Even the trees are white in Nimes.
I like the effect – it puts the emphasis on texture.
And the Colosseum.
This is supposedly one of the best preserved in existence, although you can see that its had a little help in places.
It has had an interesting history, in medeival times, the much shrunken city actually retreated within the walls, building a tiny city within a city inside the arena.
Stadium design changes and stays the same. The romans had a complicated system of seat access that allowed them to fill the arena seating almost simultaneously.
They now hold concerts and (I think) bull fighting here so they have fitted out the lower arena with bleacher seating.
In these areas the original stone seating was removed to make way for medieval buildings.
I like the contrast between the faced stone and the fill (never meant to be exposed).