About The Magne Tower
The Magne Tower (Tour Magne) is an impressive Roman tower built under the Emperor Augustus in the 1st century BC as part of the fortifications of Nimes.
The Magne Tower history
The Magne Tower in Nimes is the town’s sole remaining Roman tower from this period. The tower was originally a dry-stone oval tower, with a maximum height of 18m and already part of a rampart.
A structure that was both prestigious and strategic, it represented sanctuary and protected the oppidum. By doubling its height and incorporating it into the town walls, Augustus demonstrated the new power of the colony of Nîmes over the “City” (in the territorial sense) of the Volcae. When the town’s population abandoned the higher ground, the Tour Magne nevertheless continued to play a military role.
Beyond its Roman roots, the Magne Tower also played a role in the Hundred Years’ War, acting as a stronghold against the English. In the 1800s, the building was used as part of an optical telegraph system, with a contraption installed at the top to enable semaphore, its high position making it ideal for this purpose as it could be seen from afar. This didn’t last long, as the advent of the telegraph system rendered it obsolete.
The Magne Tower today
Despite the loss of its top storey, the Magne Tower is still an imposing sight, rising some 112 feet in height at the town’s highest point. The tower has a modern tower installed inside it, to enable people to reach the top.With its prime location overlooking Nimes, visitors to the Magne Tower can climb its many steps for fantastic views and a map of Roman Nimes.
Near the Tour Magne is a reservoir from which the water carried by the great Roman aqueduct, the Pont du Gard, was distributed throughout the town. The pleasant Jardin de la Fontaine and the Temple of Diana is situated on the edge of the city, was designed in 1745. The fountain and the canals that flow through it are partly Roman. The Archaeological Museum, which is housed in a former Jesuit college, has a fine collection of Roman objects, as well as some Iron Age artifacts.
Getting to The Magne Tower
The Magne Tower is located in the centre of Nimes, roughly a 10 minute walk away from the The Jardins de le Fontaine. 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.
You can see the Magne Tower free of charge.
From towering imposing castles to First World War trenches, ancient Roman ruins to historic Revolutionary sites, France is brimming with relics of its esteemed and turbulent history. Here's our pick of 10 of the very best attractions in the country.