Glanum was an oppidum, or fortified town in present day Provence, founded by a Celto-Ligurian people called the Salyes in the 6th century BCE. It became officially a Roman city in 27 BCE and was abandoned in 260 AD. It is particularly known for two well-preserved Roman monuments of the 1st century BC, known as les Antiques, a mausoleum and a triumphal arch (the oldest in France).

Celtic Age

Between the 4th and 2nd centuries BC, the Salyens, the largest of the Celto-Ligurian tribes in Provence, built a rampart of stones on the peaks that surrounded the valley of Notre Dame-de-Laval, and constructed an oppidum around the spring in the valley, which was known for its healing powers. A shrine was built at the spring to Glanis, a Celtic god. The town grew, and a second wall was built in the 2nd century BC. In 125 BC the Salyens were defeated by the army of the Roman consul Marcus Fulvius Flaccus, and the following year decisively defeated by C. Sextus Calvinus. Many of the old monuments of Glanum were destroyed.

Due to its commercially useful location on the Via Domitia, and the attraction of its healing spring, the town prospered again. The city produced its own silver coins and built new monuments. The prosperity lasted until 90 BC when the Salyens again rebelled against Rome. The public buildings of Glanum were again destroyed. The rebellion was crushed this time by the Consul Caecilius, and the remains of the main buildings demolished and replaced by more modest structures.

Roman Age

In 49 BC Julius Caesar captured Marseille, and after a period of destructive civil wars, the Romanization of Provence and Glanum began.

In 27 BC the Emperor Augustus created the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis, and in this province Glanum was given the title of Oppidum Latinum, which gave residents the civil and political status of citizens of Rome. A triumphal arch was built outside the town between 10 and 25 BC, near the end of the reign of Augustus, (the first such arch to be built in Gaul), as well as an impressive mausoleum of the Julii family, both still standing.

In the 1st century BC, under the Romans, the city built a new forum, temples, and a curved stone arch dam, Glanum Dam, the oldest known dam of its kind, and an aqueduct, which supplied water for the towns fountains and public baths.

Glanum was not as prosperous as the Roman colonies of Arles, Avignon and Cavaillon, but by the 2nd century AD it was wealthy enough to build impressive shrines to the Emperors, to enlarge the forum, and to have extensive baths and other public buildings clad in marble.

Glanum did not survive the collapse of the Roman Empire. The town was overrun and destroyed by the Alamanni in 260 AD and subsequently abandoned, its inhabitants moving a short distance north into the plain to found a city that eventually became modern day Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Monuments

The Mausoleum of the Julii, located across the Via Domitia, to the north of, and just outside the city entrance, dates to about 40 BCE, and is one of the best preserved mausoleums of the Roman era.

The triumphal arch stood just outside the northern gate of the city, next to the mausoleum and was the visible symbol of Roman power and authority. It was built near the end of the reign of Augustus Caesar (who died in 14 AD). The upper portion of the arch, including the inscription, are missing.

The sculptures decorating the arch illustrated both the civilization of Rome and the dire fate of her enemies.

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Details

Founded: 600-500 BCE
Category: Prehistoric and archaeological sites in France
Historical period: Arrival of Celts (France)

Rating

4.4/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Cedric Koukjian (18 months ago)
A beautifull and well preserved roman city
Paddy Wyatt (19 months ago)
A ruin but beautifully kept considering it is 2000 years old. Historically important and have been a few times - always something new to discover.
Dominik Hagmann (20 months ago)
Great archaeological site and a good place for other outdoor activities too.
Our Life (21 months ago)
This was an interesting visit. Make sure that you wear decent shoes as the ground is quite uneven. The signs could have been clearer and more interesting but we enjoyed our visit. Very little shade so don’t forget water and sunscreen or an umbrella depending on the weather.
Diana Hockett (2 years ago)
What a wonderful site! It is a complete Roman village with beautifully preserved ruins. The informational plagues have incredibly detailed pictures that recreate what the buildings and areas used to look like. The staff is so friendly and the restaurant on site is well-priced and yummy. Overall a great experience and am looking forward to bringing friends & family here in the future.
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