Let's discover Cimiez archaeological site

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General view - ©Frantz-Samy / CC-BY-SA General view - ©Frantz-Samy / CC-BY-SA
Cimiez archaeological site Gallo-Roman


Cimiez is the old Cemelenum! Rich Romans moved here since the Ist century BC. They were 20 000 in the 2th century! On the next century, in the reign of Claude, Cemelenum became the Provincia Alpium Maritimarum, the capital city of Alpes Maritimes.

The most important road via Julia Augusta, which linked Italy to Var département, even went across Cimiez. 2 centuries later, in the 4th century BC, the Massaliotes people came and founded Nikaia city, the current Nice...

And yet, long before Romans, the Celt tribe called Vediantii raised here in Cimiez their own fortress (an oppidum): we still can see vestiges, to the south of Cimiez monastery, on a hillock... The archaeological site is composed of the amphitheatre, thermae and the Apollo’s temple.

The amphitheatre

Let’s see this theatre. People here call it "fairies' tank", tina dei fada. It’s a modest building raised in the 1st century, with a capacity of 500 people, with wooden rows of seats. They probably organized gladiators and animals fights here.

In the 3th century, they extended it: it was 65 metres long and 55 metres large; about 6 000 spectators could enter! They also modernized it: no more wood, but stone tiers.


There, we have the thermae, with 3 parts: Northern, Eastern, Western thermaes, each one with its own heating system, changing rooms and pools.

Northern thermae, which used to be the most beautiful one, were made for Nice’s richest persons. Proof of that, the little white marble tiled floors on the wall! We found here a marble pool surrounded by a peristyle and latrines. To the north, the frigidarium (cold water room).

Then, the "tepid water room" (tepidarium) and the "hot water room" (caldarium), built on a hypocaustum, a kind of heating system. Another kind of heating system, the proefurnium, was used for the sudatorium, the "sauna bath".

Eastern thermae were made for modest people, with a less elegant decoration. Western thermae were made for women: yes! For Romans, men and women couldn’t bath together... You know what? This part of thermae was transformed into a primitive cathedral flanked by a baptistery, since the 5th century!

26 metres long and 9 metres large, it was a kind of vast tank full of water: stairs were used by people for baptism, when they dived in water. But, how did they bring water to those thermae? With aqueducts, of course! We had two here, the Mouraille and the Falicon (1st-2th century).

Apollo’s temple

Now, the temple... which is, in fact, a cold water room made for some people only. It’s 20 metres long and 12 metres large even so! Cimiez city simply disappeared with Roman Empire’s fall, in the 6th century...

And also!