Nīmes (Nimes in Provenēal) is a city of southern France, préfecture (capital city) of the Gard département.
The city derives its name from Nemausus, perhaps the sacred wood in which the Celtic tribe of Volcae Arecomici (who of their own accord surrendered to the Romans in 121 BCE) held their assemblies (according to Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911) or perhaps the local Celtic spirit guardian of the spring that originally provided all water for the settlement, as many modern sources suggest. Or perhaps Stephanus of Byzantium was correct in stating in his geographical dictionary that Nemausos, the city of Gaul, took its name from the Heracleid (or son of Heracles) Nemausios.
Nimes must have been one of the richest and finest Roman cities of Gaul. Several important remains of the Roman Empire can still be seen in and around Nīmes:
- The elliptical Roman amphitheatre, of the 1st or 2nd century CE, is the best-preserved Roman arena in France. It filled with medieval housing, when its walls served as ramparts, but was cleared under Napoleon. It is still used today as a bull fighting and concert arena.
- The Maison Carrée (Square House), a small Roman temple dedicated to sons of Agrippa was built ca 19 BCE. It is one of the best-preserved Roman temples anywhere.
- The nearby Pont du Gard, also built by Agrippa, is a well-preserved aqueduct that used to carry water across the small Gardon river valley.
- The nearby Mont Cavalier is crowned by the Tour Magne ("Great Tower"), a ruined Roman tower.
- The cathedral (Saint Castor), occupying, it is believed, the site of the temple of Augustus, is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic in style.
Tree-shaded boulevards trace the foundations of its former city walls.