Maison Carrée is neither Square nor a House:
Right in the center of Nîmes is a magnificent little Roman temple, believed to be one of the most famous and best-preserved temples of the Roman world. Its name Maison Carrée suggests a Square House, but this building is neither square nor a house.
Maison Carrée is a beautifully proportioned Roman temple which was erected in 5 AD in honour of Caïus Caesar and Lucius Caesar, grandson and adopted son of Emperor Augustus.
In the old French language any shape with four angles is described by the word carré which is square in modern French. This is how the temple got its unusual name.
The Maison Carrée was part of the forum, administrative and economic centre of the town. Inspiration for the monument was drawn from the architecture of the Temple of Apollo in Rome.
Originally a Roman temple, the building later served as a court and as an office for the consuls of Nîmes. It then became a home, a stable and then a church. It was the conversion of the temple into a church in the 4th century that saved Maison Carrée from the widespread destruction of temples that followed when Christianity was adopted as Rome’s official state religion. Today Maison Carrée houses an exhibition tracing its history.
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