The town of Saintes in the Charente-Maritime of France is a delightful town with lots of history to explore and discover. It was built by the Romans who called it “Mediolanum Santonum”, as it was built on the territory of the Santons, a gallic people. Mediolanum Santonum became the capital of Aquitaine and was one of the largest cities in Roman Gaul.
Roman remains can be found all over Saintes, and in this post I will concentrate on the Arch of Germanicus and nearby remains.
The arch was built around 18-19 AD and stood originally at the front of the bridge that crossed the river Charente, the road linking the Atlantic Ocean to Lyon and onwards to Rome; the end of the famous Via Agrippa.
The arch was built to honour the Roman Emporer Tiberius, his son Drusus, and his adopted son Germanicus. Incidentally, Germanicus was Tiberius’ nephew and also brother to Emporer Claudius.
When the old bridge was demolished in the 19th century, the arch was dismantled, and then rebuilt and restored. It now stands along the river near the tourist office at the end of the Rue de l’Arc de Triomphe.
Speaking of the tourist office, right next to it you will find the Archaeological Museum with lots of Roman columns on display outside of the building. While we did not visit the museum, I have heard good things about it, and a cost of only 3 Euros (at time of writing) it hardly breaks the bank!