December 7, 2013

0888 FRANCE (Occitania) - Pont du Gard (UNESCO WHS)

Built shortly before the Christian era to allow the aqueduct of Nîmes (which is almost 50 km long) to cross the Gardon River, the Pont du Gard is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges and is the best preserved with the Aqueduct of Segovia. The Roman architects and hydraulic engineers who designed this bridge, which stands almost 50 m high and is on three levels - the longest measuring 275m - created a technical as well as an artistic masterpiece, for which reason it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1985. After the collapse of the Roman Empire and the aqueduct's fall into disuse, the Pont du Gard remained largely intact due to its importance as a toll bridge. For centuries the local lords and bishops were responsible for its upkeep in exchange for the right to levy tolls on travellers.

The three levels of arches are recessed, with the main piers in line one above another, and each level has a differing number of arches. The first level adjoins a road bridge that was added in the 18th century. The water conduit (specus), which is about 1.8m high and 1.2m wide, is carried at the top of the third level. It was constructed largely without the use of mortar or clamps. The walls of the conduit were constructed from dressed masonry and the floor from concrete. Both were covered with a stucco incorporating minute shards of pottery and tile. It was painted with olive oil and covered with maltha, a mixture of slaked lime, pork grease and the viscous juice of unripe figs, this producing a surface that was both smooth and durable.

About the stamp
The stamp is one of the two issued by France in 1974 for Europa Stamps, with the theme Sculptures:
The Age of Bronze, by Auguste Rodin (0.50) - it's on the postcard
Air, by Aristide Maillol (0.90)

Pont du Gard - Wikipedia 

Sender: Sébastien C. (direct swap)
Sent from Bordeaux (Aquitaine / France), on 02.12.2013
Photo: Heliflasch

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