One of the most interesting and impressive places to go is the Pont du Gard in France. The old aqueduct provided a plentiful supply of water to the town of Nimes. The Romans built the aqueduct and maintained it for many years, always supplying water to the town for powering mills, providing clean water to homes, for bathing, and to run the public and private fountains when the water was in good supply.
The Pont du Gard spanned the river, with the largest arch being 80 feet. It was (and still is) a marvel of engineering. It was constructed out of stone blocks and nothing else, except for the top portion that carried the water. Mortar was used to seal the stones so the water wouldn’t leak out. The Romans were experts at constructing arches without the use of any concrete or mortar to hold it all together. They would stack the cut stone using forms to get the placement and shapes of the stones just right. The Pont du Gard is a memorial to their ingenuity.
Romans had to find a way to get water to their towns. The solution was aqueducts. They would divert streams up the hills and construct aqueducts to bridge the valleys and uneven terrain they encountered. As you can see from the photo above, they couldn’t divert the water from the river below, because they had to depend on gravity to send the water to their destinations. The water would slowly make its way from some higher point and gradually flow into the towns. The Pont du Gard allowed a town like Niomes to prosper because of the abundance of water for everyday life.
This is what the form used to construct the arches would have looked like. The Pont du Gard museum has an excellent display of the types of tools and machines the Roman used to lift the heavy blocks of stone into place.
The best part of the visit to the Pont du Gard is walking across the bridge and seeing the views and feeling what it would have been like nearly 2,000 years ago.
While there has been some maintenance over the years to keep the Pont du Gard in good condition, the bulk of the aqueduct is intact. It really was constructed to last forever.
Below is a photo of an olive tree that they believe is nearly 1,000 years old. It still produces olives. The site around the Pont du Gard has a number of these really old olive trees.
Below is a map of the area. Notice how the bridge spans a large area.