Musée Saint-Raymond
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The Grand Temple in la place Esquirol


© J.-F. Peiré
© J.-F. Peiré
Excavations carried out under la place Esquirol (a public square in Toulouse) led to the unearthing of a section  of a large temple of imposing dimensions that was constructed in the first century CE (no later than the 80s) and was used until the end of the fourth century.

It is located in the forum. The size of the building is impressive. With a width of approximately 27 meters and a length of 35 meters, it is one of the largest known temples on French territory. Its dimensions are comparable to those in Narbonne which has a façade measuring 30 meters in length.
Without a doubt, it is the capitolium, the building dedicated to the three main Roman divinities : Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva.

This model shows the temple during its construction, but it is a hypothetical reproduction based on remains discovered during the excavation and our knowledge of the principles of public Roman architecture. In fact, only minute fragments were excavated. The strong foundation is composed of large blocks of molasse and pebbles from the Garonne.

The elevations are composed of fine limestone. The brick siding in the interior of the structure and the roof were made of tiles. The ten-meter-wide portico surrounds the square and is divided in two by a line of central columns. These columns are made of brick and covered with marble plates.
Outside the esplanade, under the roads running alongside the porticos, we see a section of the city’s sewer system. Constantly maintained until the fifth century, the sewers included vast, vaulted galleries in which a man could comfortably stand upright. They were built with small limestone block and bricks with a brick-paved floor. The manholes allow access for sewer maintenance from the surface.
Underneath, the road, which is at least nine meters wide, is constructed with a very compact pavement made of pebbles and gravel.
The capitolium of Tolosa is mentioned in a text dating back to the beginning of the fifth century entitled The Passion of Saint Saturnin, the first bishop of Toulouse. This text describes mainly his martyrdom which took place in the temple during a persecution of Christians in 250.  In the sixth century, in remembrance of this event, a church was erected on the temple ruins and dedicated to Pierre who later was renamed Saint-Pierre-Saint-Géraud.
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Tolosa's gold age | Chiragan | Necropolis