Inspired by the temples of Apollo and Mars Ultor in Rome, this Gallo-Roman temple was built during the 1st century B.C. in honour of Lucius and Gaius Caesar, the adopted heirs of Augustus known as the « princes of youth ». The name Maison Carrée (literally square house) is a misnomer as the rectangular temple is 26 metres long, 15 metres wide and 17 metres high. It is the only totally-preserved temple dating from Antiquity in the world. This is probably due to the fact that it has been constantly in use since the Middle Ages as a town hall, church, stables, dwelling, consular centre, prefecture, archive centre and museum. Situated in the historic centre of Nîmes, between the Arènes and the Tour Magne, La Maison Carrée is an essential place to visit for those keen to know more about Nemausus, the Roman name for Nîmes.
La Maison Carrée is as amazing outside as inside ! It stands on a pedestal in the centre of a huge, open square and architecture buffs should take time to admire details of the pediment, Corinthian capitals, frieze and cornice, ceiling and pronaos. The film «Nemausus, the birth of Nîmes » is shown non-stop every day inside La Maison Carrée. It tells the story of the foundation of the town of Nîmes by following the destiny of an imaginary family through the years between 55 B.C. and 90 A.D.