Excavations on a three-hectare site south of the Loupian village have revealed remains of a Roman farm villa with extensive 2nd-century Gallo-Roman mosaics. The site was occupied for more than 600 years.
Originally a modest farmstead built a few kilometres south of the Via Domitia, on the hillside overlooking the Bassin de Thau, it rapidly prospered and grew. During the early Empire, in the 1st and 2nd centuries, the villa was a large patrician residence with thermal springs. The main agricultural activity was viticulture, for which a storehouse capable of holding 1,500 hl of wine was constructed. This period also saw the building of a small port on the northern shore of the Bassin de Thau, as well as pottery workshops producing amphorae for the transportation of wine.
In the 5th century, the villa was completely rebuilt and the owner's home turned into a small mansion. The thirteen ground floor rooms are covered in multicoloured, highly decorated mosaics. The potteries by now were producing not just amphorae but also household pottery.
The springs from the original house were decorated with 2nd-century mosaics. However, those in the later villa are unique inasmuch as there is no other villa in which the influences of two such geographically separated countries, Aquitaine and Syria, have come together. This oddity is perhaps explained by the eclectic taste of the owner, or possibly simply from a desire to have the work completed quickly. In theory, a team of four mosaic workers would take a whole year to cover a 500 m2 floor. At Loupian, two teams working together could have laid the original 450 m2 in between six and eighteen months.
A 1000 m2 building protects the remains of the villa and its mosaics. Guided tours of the site and its museum are available, in French, every day in summer and on Wednesdays and weekends outside the season (closed in January). Tours in English are available at certain times.References:
Roman Walls of Lugo are an exceptional architectural, archaeological and constructive legacy of Roman engineering, dating from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. The Walls are built of internal and external stone facings of slate with some granite, with a core filling of a conglomerate of slate slabs and worked stone pieces from Roman buildings, interlocked with lime mortar.
Their total length of 2117 m in the shape of an oblong rectangle occupies an area of 1.68 ha. Their height varies between 8 and 10 m, with a width of 4.2 m, reaching 7 m in some specific points. The walls still contain 85 external towers, 10 gates (five of which are original and five that were opened in modern times), four staircases and two ramps providing access to the walkway along the top of the walls, one of which is internal and the other external. Each tower contained access stairs leading from the intervallum to the wall walk of town wall, of which a total of 21 have been discovered to date.
The defences of Lugo are the most complete and best preserved example of Roman military architecture in the Western Roman Empire.
Despite the renovation work carried out, the walls conserve their original layout and the construction features associated with their defensive purpose, with walls, battlements, towers, fortifications, both modern and original gates and stairways, and a moat.
Since they were built, the walls have defined the layout and growth of the city, which was declared a Historical-Artistic Ensemble in 1973, forming a part of it and becoming an emblematic structure that can be freely accessed to walk along. The local inhabitants and visitors alike have used them as an area for enjoyment and as a part of urban life for centuries.
The fortifications were added to UNESCO"s World Heritage List in late 2000 and are a popular tourist attraction.