Maison Carrée

Nîmes, France

The Maison Carrée is one of the best preserved Roman temple façades to be found in the territory of the former Roman Empire. In about 4-7 AD, the Maison carrée was dedicated or rededicated to Gaius Caesar and Lucius Caesar, grandsons and adopted heirs of Augustus who both died young. The building has undergone extensive restoration over the centuries.

The Maison Carrée is an example of Vitruvian architecture. Raised on a 2.85 m high podium, the temple dominated the forum of the Roman city, forming a rectangle almost twice as long as it is wide, measuring 26.42 m by 13.54 m. The façade is dominated by a deep portico almost a third of the building's length. It is a hexastyle design with six Corinthian columns under the pediment at either end, and pseudoperipteral in that twenty engaged columns are embedded along the walls of the cella. Above the columns, the architrave is divided by two recessed rows of petrified water drips into three levels. Egg-and-dart decoration divides the architrave from the frieze. On three sides the frieze is decorated with fine ornamental relief carvings of rosettes and acanthus leaves beneath a row of very fine dentils.

A large door (6.87 m high by 3.27 m wide) leads to the surprisingly small and windowless interior, where the shrine was originally housed. This is now used to house a tourist oriented film on the Roman history of Nîmes. No ancient decoration remains inside the cella.

Until the 19th century, it formed part of a larger complex of adjoining buildings. These were demolished when the Maison Carrée housed what is now the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nîmes (from 1821 to 1907), restoring it to the isolation it would have enjoyed in Roman times. The pronaos was restored in the early part of the 19th century when a new ceiling was provided, designed in the Roman style. The present door was made in 1824.

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Details

Founded: 4-7 AD
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France
Historical period: Roman Gaul (France)

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Ondřej Pekárek (2 months ago)
A touch of ancient Rome in 21st century. A lot of corithian temple pillars. You can buy one ticket for temple and amphitheatre
Levon Alyanakian (Levon's Travel's) (3 months ago)
Beautiful , well preserved temple. The history is presented and explained in depth inside. We bought the combined ticket with the Arena. 100% worth the visit and a must do in Nîmes.
Bart Eekhaut (3 months ago)
This roman temple in the, by emperor Augustus founded, city of Nimes is a true treasure. Where other roman buildings where often used as stone quarry or got striped of their ornaments in order to decorate new buildings, the Maison Carrée has been preserved in it's original state for more that 2000 years. It has been used for many different functions during it's history namely a city hall, a church, a prefecture, a museum, a house and even a tomb for the son of the duchess of Uzès. The more recent restauration of 2011 let it shine brightly white.
Bertrand Legendre (4 months ago)
Beautifully maintained Roman temple. The area is very clean and opened which helps to go around the temple and enjoy the architecture.
Beat A. Schwendimann (12 months ago)
The 'Maison Carée' is considered one of the best preserved Roman temples in the world. Originally a temple dedicated to the grandchildren of emperor Augustus, the building has also been a church, a warehouse, a private residence, and a museum. Today, you can watch a 23-min movie about the history of Nimes. Starts every half hour on the hour. Cost €6.
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