Discovering archaeological sites of Fréjus

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The amphitheatre - ©Patricia.fidi / Public domain The amphitheatre - ©Patricia.fidi / Public domain
Fréjus archaeological sites Gallo-Roman Fortification Aqueduct Harbour

Jules’ market

Former Forum Julii, ″Jules’ market″, Fréjus was born between 58 and 44 BC. At that time, Caesar ruled over the Gaul. Augustus brought a harbour to the city.

Besides, Strabo named the city ″Augustus’ divine harbour″, Pliny colonia Octavanorum, ″Augustus’ colony″ and Tacitus vertus et illustris colonia, ″old and ancient colony″.

Whoa! Lots of honours… So, with this strong Roman past, Fréjus houses today important remains. You know what? Ruins of all those Roman buildings were used by Riculphe, bishop of Fréjus, when they re-raised the city in the Middle Ages, after the Saracens’ destruction in the 10th century.

This sir blithely took stones from the Roman buildings, like in a stone quarry, perfect for the raising of his new house!

The vestiges

The amphitheatre

This one is smaller than Nîmes or Arles: 10000 spectators could enter in, VS 25000 in Nîmes! Historians found bricks with the name of the man who made them: Castor. An important guy who already supplied bricks for several building sites in Fréjus...

The aqueduct

The water came from Mons, from the river Siagne. It came by an aqueduct to Fréjus, after a 40 kilometres trip! Once it was in the city, the water ended in the water tower, the castellum, then it was dispatched in the districts. From this aqueduct, we still can see pillars in middle of the vegetation.

Augustus’ lantern

Raised in the Middle Ages on the foundations of a Roman tower, sailors used it as a sea-mark, which is a fixed landmark visible during the day (unlike the lighthouse). It’s 10 metres high!

Roman ramparts

Real ramparts, about 2 kilometres long! The Gaul gate is a remain of this amazing wall. The tradition says that the famous Aurelian road (which linked Italy to Gaul) passed by this gate! We had 4 fortified gates in the past in Fréjus: the Gaul gate and the Golden gate are still here.

The harbour

From Octave’s harbour, only remains the outline: a harbour filled in 1812 owing to the mud and its insalubrious air! Fréjus used to be a giant and important harbour, in the Roman era. We had quays about 2 kilometres long, linked by the sea by a 500 metres long canal.

Yes, the harbour was dug inside the land… Jules Caesar drew the plans of a first harbour, but it was Octave who transformed it into a real military port, by giving it 300 boats seized during the Battle of Actium…

The Golden gate

Here’s the remains of the port’s thermal baths. Vast baths! The gate is a high arch made of brick and sandstone. They found a Jove’s head, here (we can see it in the city’s museum).

But what about the name? Golden? Well, we don’t know exactly! Abbot and historian Girardin evoked a name referring to big golden nails they found in the masonry. But we also write porte d'orée (″edge gate″), because we were here at the entrance of the harbour, the place where all the boats brought merchandise from Orient...

And also!