The city of Nimes has welcomed the inscription onto the Unesco World Heritage List of its iconic Maison Carrée, a Roman temple built in the first century CE. The addition to the list is expected to bring more visitors and increased revenue to the southern French city.

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“We will be worthy of this decision,” said Nimes mayor, Jean-Paul Fournier, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where the 45th World Heritage Committee has been adding new sites since Saturday.

The well-preserved temple becomes France’s 51st site added to the list.

The volcanoes and forests of Mount Pelée and the Pitons of Northern Martinique were added to the list of natural sites earlier in the session.

Erected in the Roman colony of Nemausus, the Maison Carrée of Nimes is an example of early Roman architecture. Several important ancient buildings remain in the city, including the arena, which still hosts shows and concerts.

The neighbouring city of Arles, which also has a preserved Roman amphitheatre as well as baths and an ancient theatre and the Pont du Gard aqueduct were added to the Unesco list forty years ago.

The city of Nimes applied for recognition in 2018, but committee deferred its decision because the experts did not like how close the ancient monuments were to modern buildings.

The city then recentred its applications on the Maison Carrée, which reopened to the public last year after a renovation.

The city has said the inscription on the heritage list will “generate an increase in tourism” and will be a “real tool for growth for the city” with large financial rewards.

(with AFP)