Temple of Diana – Nimes | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Temple of Diana – Nimes

Nimes, Occitania, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Temple of Diana – Nimes

The Temple of Diana (Temple de Diane) is a Roman site in Nimes whose ultimate purpose remains a mystery, as does the origin of its name.

Temple of Diana history

Believed by some to have been originally built sometime during the reign of Augustus – others say in the 2nd century – it has been suggested that the Temple of Diana may have been a library. It is most likely that the ‘Temple’ was not a temple, but rather a library that originally faced onto a portico that enclosed much of the spring sanctuary.

It is located near the gushing spring of “La Fontaine”, around which was an Augusteum, a sanctuary devoted to the cult of the emperor and his family, centred on a nymphaeum. Its basilica-like floor plan argues against it being a temple and there is no archaeological or literary evidence for its dedication to Diana.

The building’s facade was rebuilt during the 2nd century and in the medieval era it housed a monastery, ensuring its survival.

It was excavated in 1745 during work to create the garden of La Fontaine, and was painted by Hubert Robert and other 18th century painters. It was made a monument historique in 1840.

Temple of Diana today

Whatever its original function, this stunning site boasts well-preserved vaulted ceilings, grand archways and enticing passageways. Its lateral corridors, which formerly led to a higher level, its different roofing vaults, the niches of its great hall do not correspond to the typical construction elements of the Greco-Roman temples.

The remains consist mainly of a vaulted hall, flanked by two staircases to missing semi-detached buildings. The north side wall has a series of five rectangular niches surmounted by alternate triangular and semi-circular pediments. Between each niche was a column of composite order. Three other rooms have ceilings decorated with carved coffered ceilings.

The ancient opus sectile floor made of precious marble shapes of various colours backed by mortar was discovered the during the excavations of 1745.

It is now accessible from the Jardins de la Fontaine.

Getting to Temple of Diana

The Temple of Diana is located right next to the The Jardins de le Fontaine in the centre of Nimes. Nimes is located on the south east coast of France, roughly 55km (1 hour drive) away from Montpellier and 120km (1 hour and 30 mins drive) from Marseille.

Entry to the Jardins de le Fontaine and Temple of Diana is free of charge.

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