The Pont du Gard is an ancient aqueduct in the South of France constructed by the Roman Empire.
It crosses the Gardon River near the town of Vers-Pont-du-Gard in southern France.
The Pont du Gard, built as three tiers of archways to bring water to the city of Nîmes.
Three tiers of arches rise to a height of 48.8 meters (160 ft). The first tier is composed of 6 arches, from 15 to 24 meters (51 to 80 feet) wide, the largest spanning the river; the second tier is composed of 11 arches of the same dimensions; the third, carrying the conduit, is composed of 35 smaller (4.5 meters or 15-foot) arches.
Its width varies from 9 meters (30 ft) at the bottom to 3 meters (9.8 ft) at the top.
The Pont du Gard was part of a nearly 50 kilometers (31 mi) aqueduct that brought water from the Fontaines d’Eure springs near Uzès to the Castellum in the Roman city of Nemausus (Nîmes).
It is the highest of all elevated Roman aqueducts, and one of the best preserved.
The aqueduct formerly carried an estimated 40,000 cubic meter (about 1,4 million US gal) of water a day to the fountains, baths and homes of the citizens of Nîmes.
It has long been thought that the Pont du Gard was built by Augustus’ son-in-law and aide, Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa, around the year 19 BC. Newer excavations, however, suggest the construction may have taken place in the middle of the first century A.D, consequently, opinion is now somewhat divided on the matter.
The aqueduct is believed to have taken about fifteen years to build, employing between 800 and 1,000 workers.
It may have been in use as late as the 6th century, with some parts used for significantly longer, but a lack of maintenance after the 4th century led to clogging by mineral deposits and debris that eventually choked off the flow of water.
After the Roman Empire collapsed and the aqueduct fell into disuse, the Pont du Gard remained largely intact, due to the importance of its secondary function as a toll bridge.
Like many of the best Roman constructions, it was built without mortar. The structure was severely damaged in the 5th century but was restored in 1743.
It attracted increasing attention starting in the 18th century, and became an important tourist destination.
It underwent a series of renovations between the 18th and 21st centuries, commissioned by the local authorities and the French state, which culminated in 2000 with the opening of a new visitor center and the removal of traffic and buildings from the bridge and the area immediately around it.
Today it is one of France’s most popular tourist attractions, and has attracted the attention of a succession of literary and artistic visitors.
The aqueduct was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1985 because of its historical importance.