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The History of the Languedoc:   Romans:   The Via Domitia

The Via Domitia. The Via Domitia, the oldest Roman road in Gaul, and one of the oldest Roman roads anywhere.  It links Rome in Italy to Cadiz in Spain, and is part of an immense road network of more than 70,000 miles, built by the Romans over eight centuries.  It runs from one end of the Languedoc-Roussillon to the other, through four of the five departéments of the Languedoc-Roussillon (Aude, Gard, Hérault, and Pyrénées-Orientales). only 15 miles or so from the Mediterranean Sea, providing an easy way to explore the region's landscapes and history. 

It was constructed in 118 BC by the proconsul, Ghaeus Domitius Ahenobarbus, and was built around the time of the first Roman colony in Gaul, Colonia Narbo Martius, which is now known as Narbonne. It met the Via Aquitania, which led toward the Atlantic Ocean via Toulouse and Bordeaux.

Over 2000 years ago the territories of the Gaulish tribes barred Roman access by land to its possessions in Iberia. In 118 BC, Cneus Domitius Ahenobarbus crossed the Rhône with his legions.  He had to establish control, and set up garrisons (like the one at Narbonne) to protect the colonies, The military road he built still bears his name: the Via Domitia or Domitian Way. It rapidly became a major route for communications and commerce. 

The road allowed Rome to control the wholeof southern Gaul, distributing agricultural land to Roman colonists and building new towns along the way.  Apart from exchanges between Rome and its colonial cities, crossroad settlements developed all along the road, linking it with neighbouring towns, and creating a new the local economy.

A modern road (the A9) hides the original materials in many places, but whole sections of the foundations and engineering works (such as bridges and mile-posts) can still be seen.  Some interesting places along the way include,

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THe Via Domitia.
The Romans

Via Domitia
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