Narbonne has a brand-new museum about ancient Roman history. Narbo Via wants to revive the bygone times of the impressive city ‘Narbo Martius’, as Narbonne was called in the classical era. Being the first Roman settlement outside Italy, Narbo Martius played an important role in protecting the Roman-controlled land from the Gauls. With no less than 1,000 objects, temporary exhibitions, workshops, films and interactive displays, the museum lets you explore this fascinating period of time.
Entering the museum, you will immediately stumble upon a huge wall displaying 760 blocks of stone. This impressive stone gallery measures 76 metres long and 10 metres high. It was awe-inspiring to see these fragments of Roman monuments grouped all together. Most of these monuments were destroyed over the years. Fortunately, King Francis I had the most beautiful, decorated blocks inserted into the ramparts during the 16th century. When these city gates, in turn, were dismantled in the late 19th century, the stone collection moved to a museum. To finally find its destination at Narbo Via. Several interactive displays allow you to find out more about individual blocks, making it even more enjoyable.
After passing the stone gallery, I entered the actual museum, which is divided into six parts. As a result, each theme helps to revive the lost city of Narbo Martius. One part explains more about the first settlement, while another shows elements of former monuments, statues, tombs and more. Narbo Via brings together the collections of two Narbonne museums: the lapidary and the archaeological museum. Along with recently discovered finds from various excavation projects around Narbonne. That is to say that the permanent collection is very impressive.
At the ‘urban dwellings’ part, you can see an atrium in actual size. It includes a beautiful mosaic floor and wall projections to better understand the decorations used. As our twins had to make a scale model of a Roman house for their Latin class, I immediately recognized this central room of a ‘domus’. Besides the vast collection, you will find demonstrations created by the staff. They show how the Romans would make their money and what the images mean. It made the visit more vivid. To get an even better idea of the Roman period in Narbonne, you could combine your visit to Narbo Via with the Horreum in Narbonne (underground galleries) and the Amphoralis in Sallèles-d’Aude (a former Gallic amphora workshop).