Last modified: 2002-10-12 by ivan sache
Keywords: var | fržjus | hermes: double-headed |
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by Gerard van der Vaart
Fréjus is a city of c. 35,000 inhabitants, located in the lower valley of river Argens, which separate the mountains of Maures and Esterel. The center of the city is now 1,500 m away from the Mediterraean Sea, but there is a sea resort named Fréjus-Plage (Fréjus-Beach)
Fréjus was in the Roman times Forum Julii, probably
founded by Julius Caesar in 49 BC. The city became an important
military harbour in 39 BC, when Octavius (later Emperor Augustus)
founded here an arsenal where rapid and light galleys were built and
crews trained to fight. The galleys helped him to defeat the heavy
and slow galleys of Antonius and Cleopatra during the Actium battle.
The city was then renamed Colonia Octavanorum. The amphitheater and
parts of the theater, aqueducts and city wals have been preserved
The city became less important during the Pax Romana but remained a rich trading port. A bishopric was created there by Emperor Constantine at the end of the IVth century. In the Xth century, the city was trashed by the Sarracens, and rebuilt in 990 by Bishop Riculf. The medieval fortified center of Fréjus included the cathedral and its cloister (XII-XIIIth centuries, early Provencal Gothical style) and baptistry (Vth century, one of the oldest ones in France), and the Bishop's palace (XIVth century, now the city hall),
Under King Henri II (1547-1559), an Admiralty was established in Fréjus. However, the port and waterways lacked upkeep and malaria developed in the area. During the Revolution, the port was sold as bien national ('National property') and eventually filled in, thus explaining the location of the modern city.
Ivan Sache, 24 July 2001
The flag of Fréjus shows the municipal logo on a white
field, with the name FREJUS written in black below the logo. The logo
is derived from a bicephalous Roman statue.
The statue is a marble bicephalous Hermes, which was discovered in 1970. It is now exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Fréjus. The statue is also shown on a French postage stamp released on 13 June 1988 (face value: 3.70 FRF, YT 2548, M 88-35). The designer Roger Druet and the line-engraver Eugène Lacaque received the Prize of Philatelic Art for their artwork. The stamp is a long rectangle of 88 x 25 mm and shows on a blue background three views of Hermes (both heads facing the viewer, flanking a profile view showing the two opposite heads.)
Ivan Sache, 24 July 2001