The ancient site of Glanum is located only 1 km south of St. Rémy, at the gap into the Alpilles mountains. The site dates from the 7th century BC, beginning around a spring in this narrow gap in the mountains. From the original town of the pre-Roman (and pre-Celtic) Glanics, this has been a spiritual-religious site up to the Roman town with its temples.
You can drive out on the D5 road from St Rémy, following signs to "Les Baux". On the right side of the road (going south) are the Triumphal Arch and Mausoleum, open (unfenced) and available to anybody at any time. On the left side of the road, a short lane leads to the Glanum site, with paid entrance through a reception building.
Walking works as well. From the Saint Remy-de-Provence Office de Tourisme, it's only 800 m to Glanum. The main road is Ave Vincent Van Gogh (also known as the D5) towards Glanum and Les Baux-de-Provence. A better way (because of less traffic) is the Ave Pierre Barbier, angling off southeast from the D5, just south of the parking lot and the Office de Tourisme. The Grande Randonée trail G6 follows this street, with a sign marked "18 minutes" between St Remy and the Monastery St-Paul-Mausole, just beside Glanum.
The triumphal arch was built during the early Roman empire, indicating the entry road to Glanum along the great way of the Alps (the main Italy road). This is the oldest arch of the Narbonensis region, and probably influenced other arches and some of the 12th-century doorways.
This is the most outstanding and best-preserved mausoleum of the Roman world. The structure is elegant and well-proportioned, standing 18 m high. The podium base is decorated with bas reliefs on all sides, representing battle and hunting scenes. The second level is a four-sided arch decorated with naval scenes including dragons, griffins, tritons and sea-monsters. The top level is a rotunda of narrow Corinthian columns enclosing two statues and capped with a pointed roof.
The site sits in a narrow valley sloping up from the north to the higher southern end. A quarry is located before the entrance. Inside, the site includes a Residential Area and a Monument Area, and at the back (south) a Sanctuary area was well-protected by a defensive wall stretching between two steep rocky hills. The entrance building has two excellent models of the site, one showing the buildings of the 150-50 BC era and the other showing the "modern" Roman buildings from 50 BC.
- Excellent detailed information is included in the book The Roman Remains of Southern France, by James Bromwich; Routledge; ISBN 0-415-143586.
- Open: 9h00-19h00
- Entry: 6.50 euros
There are still some signs of late Roman work, although quarrying continued here until the 20th century.
Public baths and several buildings line both sides of the Rue des Thermes, with the basin of a street fountain at the northern end. The buildings represent 400-500 years of development, and were abandoned in the 3rd century. Buildings include the houses of Antes, Atys, Epona, Capricorn and the Hellenistic house. There's a swimming pool in front of the baths, with a water god pipe
Extensive excavation has revealed many buildings from different periods, some of them overlapping.
Remains identified from the Gallo-Greek period include a council house, treasury, fountain, wells, and a house with alcoves and a painted bedroom
Remains from the Gallo-Roman period include a large basilica, forum, Gemini temples, theater complex, monumental platform and a triumphal fountain.
The Sanctuary Area is the farthest from the road, separated from the rest of Glanum by a fortified gateway built by the Greeks.
This area includes the sanctuary and shrine, Hercules temple, Valetudo temple and Glanis inscriptions.
Artifacts have been discovered here dating the original site back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC. The Glanics, early inhabitants, venerated the "sacred" spring here, and built a shrine to their local god Glan in the 4th century BC. The Glanics a warlike people with a religion similar to the Celtic-Ligurians who occupied this region at the same time, and we have one story that the Glanics worshiped the Celtic god Glanis.
The Glanics traded with the Greeks, probably via Marseille, during the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC, bringing prosperity and resulting in a sizeable town here. Building during this first period (called Glanum-I) had a Helenistic influence, using the technique of "bonding": using large carved stone blocks set together perfectly without mortar.
During the late 2nd century BC, Roman conquest of the region brought roads through the area, with a major crossroad at Glanum (see our map). The Roman control came when Marious stopped the Teutonic army, and the town of Glanum probably suffered from the fighting and the departing Teutons. This brought a second phase of construction (Glanum-II), with the Roman style and buildings made of bonding irregular stones. Early in the 1st century AD Glanum was forced to accept the status of a Latin colony.
Phase 3 (Glanum-III) followed Ceasar's conquest of Marseille in 49 BC. Augustus rebuilt Glanum by razing the central buildings and leveling the debris to make room for a vast horizontal esplanade. Here the great Roman public buildings were erected: forum, basilica, temples and baths. The adjacent private dwellings survived the "leveling" but were transformed into the Roman styles.
Germanic invasions around 260 AD forced the abandonment of Glanum. The local canals filled up from lack of use, and alluvium coming down from the Alpilles slowly filled the valley and covered the site.
From the early part of the first millineum untill the 20th century the site was forgotten and lost. The two Roman monuments, the Triumphal Arch and Mausoleum, were obvious, beside the road south of Saint Remy-de-Provence. But it wasn't until 1921, when Jules Formigé and Pierre de Brun began digging, that the lost town of Glanum came back to light.