Ancient Traces in Cavaillon and its surroundings!

From the ancient period, many remains remain visible. We take you to the discovery of some of them, between Cavaillon and Apt.

Page updated on 25/09/2020

The naiskos of the Hotel d'Agar,
the only remnant of Cavaillon the Greek

This carved stone found on Saint James Hill in Cavaillon is the only vestige of the city's Greek past. It is one of the treasures visible in the collection of the Morand family that can be seen by visiting the Hotel d'Agar.

The evolution of the city of Cavaillon is comparable to that of Marseilles, the city was a Greek city under the name of Kabellion before its conquest and development under the Roman Empire.

A Greek naiskos meaning “temple”, it can be a funeral stele representing the deceased, or an oratory, taking the form of a miniaturized temple dedicated to a god or goddess.

Very popular in the Hellenistic era, the Greeks will take up this iconographic architectural model throughout the Mediterranean basin.

Naiskos - Hotel d

Naïskos - Hotel D'Agar - Cavaillon

Often installed above a tomb, they helped raise the deceased over these ancestors and survivors by their form. Naiskos is a representation of the deceased and distinguishes from the wealth and social category of the deceased.

It can also be related to religious worship, often used by the military who moved frequently, the Naiskos then serves as an oratory representing a miniature temple, dedicated to a god or goddess.

Often the naiskos were dedicated to the goddess Cybele, the mother goddess, whose name means “guardian of knowledge” and protector of the wilderness whose cult has spread widely throughout the ancient world.

Roman arch of Cavaillon, the
only visible monumental vestige of the ancient Cabellio

Roman Bow - Cavaillon

Roman Bow - Cavaillon - ©OT LCDP

It is called by tradition in the country the Marius arch, certainly in homage to Caius Marius, a Roman general established in Provence who crushed the barbarian hordes up to Orange in the 2nd century AD.

It was built at the beginning of the 1st century AD, originally located on the old bishopric square now known as Piazza Philippe de Cabassole, near the Cathedral of Our Lady and Saint Veran, on the ancient Roman forum.

It ends up being buried little by little to more than half its height. In the middle of the 19th century, the Historic Monuments Commission cleared it, then in 1880 it was deposited, moved and rebuilt at present ground level on the main square of the city, at the foot of Saint Jacques Hill.

Gravure - Roman Bow - Cavaillon

Gravure Arc romain

Old Roman Forum - Cavaillon

Old Roman Forum - Cavaillon

The Arch of Cavaillon is part of the series of monuments intended to perpetuate the memory of the conquest of the country by the Romans, such as those of Orange, Saint Remy, Carpentras, Avignon, etc...

It is true, however, that the one of Cavaillon differs from the others by its original architectural design and by the absence in its ornamentation of Gallic captives, military trophies and fighting.

Moreover, the back side of the 2nd arch is devoid of any decoration, which suggests that the monument was backed by a wall or other larger building. Richly decorated with friezes, leaves, flowers, you can see on each pilaster beautiful leaves of Acanthus.

Roman Bow - Cavaillon

Les deux arcs en plein cintre - ©EmDee / CC BY-SA (

Corniche avec frises d'oves - ©EmDee / CC BY-SA (
Rinceaux surmontés d'un chapiteau à feuilles d'acanthe - ©EmDee / CC BY-SA (

Le Julien Bridge,
masterpiece of antique architecture

Julien Bridge

Julien Bridge - ©OTI Pays Apt Luberon

Located in the commune of Bonnieux on the road that leads to Apt, dated 3 BC, the Julien Bridge owes its name to the ancient Roman city Apta Julia (Apt).

Located at the exit of the Roquefure Gorges, the Julien Bridge allows the crossing of the Calavon River. Do not underestimate this river, which can hardly be seen in summer as its bed is dry, once fish with a powerful flow, it is still capable of important whims, threatening the villages it crosses, especially the city of Apt.

The Julien Bridge is built on the foundations of a first Roman bridge, made of wood and stone, the choice of materials suggests that the latter has not resisted the changing moods of Calavon.

The Romans have the reputation of being great builders but also great architects, the Julien Bridge is a fabulous testament to their know-how. Indeed, for its construction, everything has been thought out to the smallest detail, so that the bridge can stand up to the waters of Calavon.

Julien Bridge

Julien Bridge - Vivaverdi CC BY-SA (httpscreativecommons.orglicensesby-sa3.0)


Dégueuloirs - Médard / CC BY-SA (

In fact, the intermediate piles are pierced with large bent bays to facilitate the evacuation of water during periods of floods, which are called “disgusting rooms”.

The structure is 80 m long, 6 m wide, and has a height of 11.50 m. It consists of three semicircular arches, including a higher central arch. The whole of the work is built of stone, mainly extracted from the quarries of the Luberon.

The Julien Bridge has all the advantages for a safe crossing, but also for an efficient flow of river water during periods of floods.

Julien Bridge

Julien Bridge - ©OT LCDP

Located on the route of Via Domitia, the Julian Bridge, was a road bridge, which shares its excellent design was adapted to dense traffic on the ancient road.

Today the Julien Bridge is classified as a Historical Monument (1914), its state of conservation is remarkable, and makes this work of art one of the best preserved Roman road bridges in France.

Via Domitia,
the oldest road in France...

Narbonnaise Gaul

Narbonnaise Gaul - Jlpeter / Public domain

Created at the time of the conquest of Midi of Gaul, from 120 BC, by Consul Cneus Domitius Achenobarbus, Via Domitia, named after its founder, was to unite Italy with the provinces of Spain. It is actually the oldest road built in France. Partly following ancient routes of antiquity, this route crossed the Alps, crossed the Rhone delta, crossed the plains of Languedoc and Roussillon and passed through the Pyrenees to the Panissars pass near the Perthus River.
It was staked by the cities of Briançon, Gap, Sisteron, Apt, Cavaillon, Nîmes, Béziers, Narbonne, and Ruscino/Château-Roussillon.

Bornes milliaires à Beaucaire (Ugernum) - Jclpaca / CC BY-SA (

Ambrussum : Voie Domitienne marquée par le passage des chariots - Benoît Strepenne / CC BY-SA (

Zoom on mileage terminals

Contrairement à nos bornes kilométriques, les bornes milliaires n'étaient pas placées tous les milles. Se présentant sous la forme de colonnes cylindriques sur une base cubique, d'une hauteur variant entre 2 et 4 mètres et d'un diamètre d'environ 50 à 80 cm, elles servaient de panneaux indicateurs placés régulièrement sur les voies pour indiquer la distance jusqu'à la prochaine étape.
On y inscrivait le nom de l'empereur qui a ordonné la construction ou la réfection de la voie, sa titulature (ses titres), l'origine du milliaire (s'il a été placé là après les travaux ou après une réparation) et la distance entre le point d'implantation - qui n'est pas mentionné - et le lieu de départ ou d'arrivée.

In the past, on the outskirts of the Durance in Cavaillon, at the bottom of the hill Saint Jacques, there was a small port, allowing you to cross the river with a flat-bottomed boat to reach the Bouches du Rhône.

An inter-provincial road, built and maintained at the expense of the Roman State, belonging to the public domain, the Domitian route was a busy axis for armies, civil servants, merchants and travellers throughout the Empire and remained so in the Middle Ages.

Many pilgrims will also take this route to Spain, and continue on the Camino Francès, the Spanish part that leads to Santiago de Compostela.

Carte de la voie domitienne - T L Miles at English Wikipedia / Public domain

This mythical road runs along the entire Luberon by the North and is now called the D900, it is the main axis connecting the East and West of the department of Vaucluse.

Photo gallery

naïskos de l'hôtel d'Agar_BD.jpg
gravure arc romain de Cavaillon_BD.JPG
Ancien forum romain de Cavaillon_BD.JPG
Arc Romain Cavaillon_BD.jpg

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