Built at the very beginning of our era and dedicated to Caius and Lucius Cesar, the adopted son and grandson of the Emperor Augustus, the Maison Carrée was part of the forum, the economic and administrative heart of the Roman town.
Inspired by the temples of Apollo and Mars Ultor in Rome, it pleases the eye with its harmonious proportions. The only fully-preserved temple of the ancient world, it is 26 metres long, 15 metres large and 17 metres high. The ceiling of the pronaos dates from the nineteenth century and the present door was made in 1824.
The exceptional state of conservation of the Maison Carrée results from continuous use since the eleventh century. It was in turn consular headquarters, stables, private house and church; it was the seat of the first Prefecture of the Gard after the Revolution and then departmental archives. In 1823 it became the first museum in Nîmes.
The square was redesigned in 1993 by Lord Norman Foster, the architect who designed Carré d'Art, to establish spatial unity of the two buildings.
The restoration of the Maison Carré started in 2006 and was completed in 2010.
After the renovation of the roof in 1992 with hand-moulded tiles following the Roman model, it was necessary to renovate the walls and floor of the building exposed to frost and pollution.
This was the largest restoration operation for a century. After the southern façade in 2006, which was an experimental phase to refine operating techniques, work was carried out on the western façade in 2007/2008 and then on the eastern façade in 2008/2009 before the main façade (northern side of the building).
It took more than four years and nearly 44,000 man-hours by sculptors and compagnon stone masons to give a new lease of life to the Maison Carrée, under the guidance of Thierry Algrin, Chief Architect for Historical Monuments.