Saturday, 1 June 2013

Glanum, the beauty of decay

Today's theme for the June 1st City Daily Photo bloggers' meme is 'the beauty of decay'. Avignon has no shortage of distressed walls but I decided to take you a little bit out of town, half an hour's drive south, near St Remy de Provence where you'll find the ruins of Glanum, a very ancient little city which thrived for centuries throughout the Celtic, Greek and Roman times. But in the Middle Ages the site was abandoned in favour of another one located 2 kilometres further north :  stones were taken from the site to build the new village of St Remy de Provence and for centuries the place was forgotten, progressively disappering under metres of  silt and dirt. The road to Baux-de-Provence was even built over it, without anyone knowing. Only in 1921 was the site discovered by accident and properly uncovered by archeologists. It's a gem. While Provence has no shortage of beautiful Roman ruins (Orange's Antique theatre and arch of triump, Arles's arenas and antique theatre, Nimes's arenas and 'maison carrée' or the spectacular 'Pont du Gard' to name just a few), they usually come in cities where archeologist's work is made difficult by the multiple layers of new buildings built over the centuries. What is so special about Glanum is that archeologists have access to a site that hasn't evolved since the Middle ages, giving open air access to the original Greek and Roman city with its villas, forum, shops, fountain and baths. A guided visit of Glanum is a fantastic dive into ancient times. Do plan to take it if you're in the area one day (advance bookings recommended).
 
Le thème de juin pour les blogueurs du réseau City Daily Photo est "the beauty of decay" (beauté des lieux dégradés). Bien sûr Avignon ne manque pas de murs décrépis que l'on trouve aujourd'hui charmants mais j'ai décidé de vous emmener à une demi-heure de route au sud, près de St Rémy de Provence, visiter le site de Glanum. Cette petite ville très active dès l'époque celtique, greque et romaine a été abandonnée au moyen âge quand les habitants ont décidé de construire le nouveau village de Saint Rémy de Provence à deux kilomètres de là. Ils ont récupéré tout ce qu'ils pouvaient de pierres puis ont oublié le site qui au fil des siècles s'est recouvert de terre et s'est retrouvé complètement enfoui. La route des Baux de Provence passait même au-dessus. Ce n'est qu'en 1921 que le site a été découvert par hasard. Plus tard la route a été déviée et les archéologues ont pu mener de passionnants travaux de fouille, faisant émerger un village avec sa rue principale, son forum, ses villas, ses échoppes, ses thermes etc.  Bien sûr la Provence ne manque pas de ruines romaines grandioses telles que les arènes d'Arles, le théatre antique d'Orange, le pont du Gard ou la maison carrée de Nîmes pour n'en citer que quelques-unes mais les villes ont continué à vivre et le travail des archéologues et rendu difficile par les mutlples couches de constructions qui se se sont succédé au cours des siècles. Ce qu'il y a d'extraordinaire à Glanum c'est que les archéologues ont pu accéder à un site entier qui n'a plus évolué depuis le Moyen âge. Si vous avez l'occasion de prendre une visite guidée du site, faites-le, c'est une passionnante plongée dans le passé (réservations vivement recommandées).
 
 
And many thanks to my wonderful French-Australian friend Ann for organising the visit,
it was fantastic.
Et un grand merci à ma merveilleuse amie franco-australienne Ann d'avoir organisé cette visite, c'était fabuleux !
.

28 comments:

jeandler said...

Superbes images de ce qui n'est pas un lieu " dégradé " !
Des coquelicots dans les ruines : superbe.

Jo said...

wonderful post

Kate said...

It is indeed a "gem" and a true classic! What a wonderful experience to be able to see and visit this site.

Dina said...

As an archaeology worker, I'd LOVE to take that tour. What a beauty. Thanks for the happy story of Glanum.

burun estetigi said...

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burun estetigi

Red Nomad OZ said...

The blue sky looks SO Australian ... but that where the similarity ends!! Awesome detail and beautiful shots!

Stefan Jansson said...

Good choice for the theme day. A great place.

Jim said...

It's wonderful.

Sharon said...

Truly beautiful!

krisz fu said...

Oh what a site! I hope it keeps looking this way :)

rebeccaNYC said...

I have been here many times, it's one of my favorite places to bring visitors...I have never done the guided tour, and love walking through the ruins at my own pace, letting my imagination wander. Even at the height of tourist season, I have never seen it as crowded as it is in your photo....

William Kendall said...

Spectacular!

Meghan said...

The stone work is stunning! Very nice find.

│ˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉ│ AVIGNON │ˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉ│ said...

It seems nobody thought about the human decay...
Amazing is not it ?

cieldequimper said...

Forcément, tu fais très fort ! La photo avec les coquelicots est très jolie !

LOLfromPasa said...

Great choice and absolutely brilliant to see the tourist there enjoying this find too.

LONDONLULU said...

A beautiful site I knew nothing about before. I love seeing these types of ruins, to imagine those who once passed through here long ago. Gorgeous captures!

Nathalie Beaumes said...

Rebecca NYC, the place wasn't crowded at all, it's only the 20-odd members of our group gathering around our tour guide :)

ˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉˉˉˉˉ│∩│ˉˉˉˉ said...

Do not say it : these corrugated sheets have not been photographed in Avignon !
I found this "wall" in a flea half-outdoors on the road to Apt.
These are old T.U.B. Citroën bunk.
:D)
But the picture quality is not great... :(

wilf said...

This is a real beauty...

Lynette said...

You’ve made a great Theme Day post. I'm glad you picked these for today. Thanks for the informative text.

paul said...

Very interesting post, Nathalie, and beautiful images. Thanks.

Bob Crowe said...

Completely unknown to us before now. Perhaps being buried preserved the beautiful details you show us. Do scholars have a theory about why the town moved?

marie said...

bonjour Nathalie, ah c'est magnifique ces colonnes blanche brillante d'un beau travail et la brillance du rouge des coquelicots.
aaah la nature est tellement indifférente envers notre passé!

Lee I said...

A beautiful picture of one of my favorite places. It seems like they are uncovering more as time goes by.

Tamera said...

It's amazing how much detail and beauty has survived to this day. Great pictures!

NATHALIE said...

Yes Lee, the tour guide did say that more remained to be uncovered - there's plenty of work left for future generations of archeologists!

JM said...

I never heard of Glanum before and what a marvellous site it is! Love the top composition. Great entry on the theme.

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