Thursday, September 15, 2022

Underground Narbonne

When France was part of the Roman Empire, Narbonne was a significant provincial capital. Unfortunately very little of the Roman history has survived, but today we explored one of the main archeological site in Narbonne with Roman origins. 

Not far from the apartment is the Galeries Souterrainses Romaines. This was, in Roman times a vast underground warehouse for storing goods. It consists of a series of connected arched tunnels and storage rooms. The main reason they have survived is that local people built houses on top of them and used the old Roman ruins under their houses as basement storage. Of course many were damaged and modified over the years, but enough survived to enable the town to claim them and restore them to a degree. It is now a protected historical site and open to the public. 

As you descend into the underground tunnels you immediately understand the

Going Down

"why" of this construction. It was a muggy 32°C outside on the day we visited, and climbing down the stairs you immediately felt the temperature drop. The cool underground storage rooms would have been perfect for storage of anything that might spoil in the HOT southern France weather. As you explored the tunnels, rooms were set up with examples of things stored here; wine, grain, vegetables and even fish were kept fresher in the cool underground areas. 

In its restored condition, there is an impressively large labyrinth of tunnels and rooms, but apparently it was much bigger originally. Many areas have collapsed and have not yet been restored or rebuilt. 

Exploring the Galleries Souterrainses Romaines was a fascinating and informative way to spend part of a day here in Narbonne and getting out of the heat into the cool underground rooms was a relief for those in our party who do not properly appreciate the heat here in the south of France.

No wine in any . . . .

1 comment:

  1. We visited a similar underground tunnel system in Belgium. They put a restaurant down there as well. It was pretty cool ... literally!