The oppidum of Durocortorum became an important settlement from the time that its inhabitants, the Belgian tribe of the Remes, joined forces with Julius Caesar. A geographical crossroads and capital of the imperial province of Belgium since the rule of Augustus, the town was equipped with a network of highways. In the early 3C AD, four arches were built, including the Porte de Mars, serving as the symbolic gateways that allowed access into the town, spanning its two main orthogonal arteries - the cardo and decumanus - at the intersection of which the forum was demarcated by a portico of which only the underground part remains. This was the cryptoporticus, which surrounded the temple and administrative and commercial buildings.
Remarkable monuments that have now disappeared reflected the prosperity of a town the population of which may have reached 30,000. At the time of the late Empire, and to provide protection against invading barbarians, walls were built between and linking the four existing arches to form a line of defences behind which the population could take refuge.
> Saint Remi museum (Musée Saint-Remi)
has a gallery entirely devoted to archaeology.
For further information, please contact the museum on
> The cathedral’s media resources centre (médiathèque)
has a permanent exhibition on archaeological digs and Gallo-Roman remains in Reims.
> The archaeological society (société archéologique champenoise) has published a book on Reims and its walls in the 4C AD.