Archive for October 24th, 2021

October 24, 2021

The Baptistére St Jean and a church in Poitiers!!

In continuing my saga of the wonderful rich historical and architecturally stunning city of Poitiers I came into some interesting monuments. One is well known as the Baptistére St Jean or St John Baptistery and a church will find out. This for reminder is in the dept 86 of the Vienne and the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine of my belle France. Let me tell you a bit about these unusual monuments ok

The Baptistére Saint-Jean or baptistery is one of the oldest Christian monuments whose origin dates back to the second half of the 4C, the beginning of the 5C. Strongly altered over the centuries, it is the building that best illustrates the dependence of Merovingian architecture with its ancient foundations but also the abandonment of classical principles.  The preserved baptistery was built on the site of a baptismal hall fitted out in a domus to the east of the cathedral. In the 6C, its plan was modified with the organization of new interior spaces. In the 7C the whole was embellished by the installation of facings and a sculpted decoration. The work of the Carolingian period seems intended to adapt structures to new liturgical and ecclesial practices. During the 11C, the reconstruction of the western part with cut sides and the installation of wall paintings gives it its final appearance.

Poitiers baptistere st jean front oct21

The Saint-Jean church, erected as a parish in 1638, was decommissioned in 1791 during the French revolution. The building was put up for sale as national property with the sacristy and the cemetery ,but could not find a buyer given its dilapidation. The baptistery becomes the property of the State which after repairs gives the use of it to the Hospitallers of the city who make a deposit then to the cathedral which rents it to a contractor who uses it as a wood store. In June 1838, the Saint-Jean church, which became the Museum of Antiquities of the West, was opened. In 1883, the Ministry of Fine Arts gave it to the city to turn it into a museum. It entrusted it to the Society of Antiquaries of the West which in 1884 deposited there all the regional Merovingian tombs which it owned in a lapidary museum from the 6-8C.

Poitiers baptistere st jean back oct21

Several archeological excavations were done, In 1803 Étienne Marie Siauve discovered an octagonal swimming pool and from 1835, numerous restorations were accompanied by surveys and archaeological excavations. Between 1855 and 1872, Charles Joly-Leterme reconstructed the side apsidioles then from 1879 to 1903, Jean Camille Formigé was in charge of the work. At the end of the 19C Camille de La Croix excavated the moat and between 1958 and 1962, as well as F. Eygun the baptismal hall and the basement of the axial apse.

Whether dating from the second half of the 4C or more recent, its original plan of two rooms preceded by a tripartite portico or a large room centered on the swimming pool, The current baptistery is reduced to a rectangular room with three apses and is important in the knowledge of Merovingian architecture. All the walls were covered with frescoes but many have disappeared. They can be dated to the first half of the 13C and a small part of the 12C.

Poitiers baptistere st jean side back to cat oct21

I passed by what it looks like a church front but no name no info, After looking up the address in the impasse de la Cathédrale (a street), it was mention as the Chuch St Hilaire, However, could not connected with the more historical Church Saint-Hilaire le Grand ,a former basilica and collegiate church which has now become a church on the spot where the native of Poitiers St Hilaire was buried, I took a picture for further research and maybe someone will come up with more here.

Poitiers ch st Hilaire impasse de la cathedrale oct21

The Poitiers tourist office on the baptistery St John

The Vienne dept 86 tourist office on the baptistery St John of Poitiers

There you go folks, something wonderfully old and nice, that is open on limited time and with a fee but worth to go me think. This is the Baptistére St Jean and a unique puzzle of a Church St Hilaire for further research. Hope you enjoy the post on Poitiers, and the intrigue; I cannot do it all….

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 24, 2021

A palace and a tower in Poitiers!!

So here I continue with my latest live visit to wonderful old Poitiers. As said was here many years ago, and now back, it seems better this time around. We were all over walking, and two spots connected I like to tell you about is the Palais des ducs d’Aquitaine and the Tour Maubergeon, today part of the courthouse/palais de justice of Poitiers!!

Throughout his lordship, the duke Jean of Berry never ceased to invest in building sites intended to mark the appearance of the city. Among these, major works were launched in the former Palace of the Dukes, shortly after the start of the renewal of the castle.  The Palace of the Counts of Poitiers is the former Ducal Palace of Aquitaine. It is a medieval testimony to the architectural style of Angevin Gothic.

A bit of history I like

The kingdom of Aquitaine had been reconstituted by Charlemagne for his son Louis the Pious. A palace was built for him in the 9C straddling the Roman wall dating from the end of the 3C, on the highest point of the city. King Louis stayed there several times, and returned there once he became emperor, in 839 and 840. It was then the seat of the Counts of Poitiers. This first state of the palace completely disappeared in a fire in 1018. It was rebuilt by the counts-dukes of Aquitaine, then at the height of their power. Count William IX added a keep to it around 1104, on the town side, called the Maubergeon tower in homage to his mistress.

Poitiers palais de ducs aquitaine de justice now front oct21

From 1192 to 1204, Aliénor d’Aquitaine had the Great Hall built, which replaced an older one. Without a particular name at the time, this room was probably the largest of the time (50 × 17 meters) in Europe, The walls of the room are decorated with blind arches supported by fine columns, with a different organization according to the wall. The walls were plastered and painted in the 19C with patterns imitating stone. A stone bench goes around the room. This is the current salle des pas perdus. It was already in this room that the counts-dukes sometimes rendered justice. After the attachment of Poitou to the royal domain, the salle des pas perdus became the room of the King, where the justice of the king was exercised,

The palace of the dukes and counts became the seat of the court of appeal of Poitiers from the French revolution, which thus perpetuated its function of Ancien Régime (monarchy). In 1852, the court of first instance was housed in this wing. It was also in the 19C that the private apartments built in the 14C were demolished to make way for the court of appeal and the registry. In 2019, the tribunal and the court of appeal move to a new judicial complex. On January 1, 2020, it officially becomes the property of the city of Poitiers and hosts an artistic and cultural event combining heritage and contemporary art: Traversées. Since July 2020 it has been open for free visits all week long and various events (conferences, shows, etc.) take place there regularly. Pending what to do next with it, Here as an anecdote the scene from the movie film Jeanne d’Arc was filmed here by Luc Besson.

Poitiers palais de ducs aquitaine de justice now oct21

Founded in the 11-12C, the Tour Maubergeon tower is characterized by a square structure with circular towers at four angles. The set with the four round towers is the old keep of the Palace of the Counts of Poitou. William IX of Aquitaine, poet known as the Troubadour, rebuilt it after a fire in 1018. The count gave it the name of his mistress Mauberge, whom he abducted from her husband’s castle. The Duke of Berry fitted out the keep in the fashion of the time around 1400 during a truce during the Hundred Years War with the piercing of Gothic windows and the addition of sculptures representing the Duke’s vassals. He did not complete the site, hence the level appearance of the building.

Poitiers tour maubergeon front oct21

The Maubergeon tower, behind the palais des ducs of Aquitaine. Topped with sixteen sculptures, this building, rebuilt in the 14C, is a former keep, which belonged to the castle of the Counts of Poitou and Dukes of Aquitaine. Today, it hosts a room in the courthouse. The place has been associated with justice for centuries: the name of Maubergeon indeed comes from “mall berg”, the old Merovingian court. The square at the foot of the tower houses a statue of Joan of Arc, which recalls that in 1429, King Charles VII sent Joan to Poitiers to be heard by theologians.

Poitiers tour maubergeon side oct21

The Poitiers tourist office on the palace

The Nouvelle Aquitaine region tourist board on Poitiers

There you go folks a dandy city of Poitiers and two of its emblematic monuments not to be missed. The palace of the Counts/Dukes of Aquitaine and its tour Maubergeon sublime. Hope you enjoy the historical architecture introduction we like.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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October 24, 2021

Hôtel de Ville of Poitiers!!

One of the emblematic buildings of Poitiers is its Hôtel de Ville or city/town hall. We were back to the city after many years gone by and it was a blast. We had great weather and a smooth trip in my road warrior ways of my belle France. I did an introduction and then some, will continue to write a few posts on Poitiers; hope you enjoy as I.

poitiers pl de marechal leclerc old pl d'armes oct21

The Hôtel de Ville of Poitiers or city/town hall is a Second Empire style municipal building located on the Place du Maréchal-Leclerc, a former Place d’Armes. Built between 1869 and 1875, The building remains a major monument representative of the tastes of the Second Empire. The majestic facade is neo-renaissance style, according to the Napoleon III style, lover of architectural pastiches. The building was not only to house the administration of the city, but also the municipal museum of fine arts which left the premises in 1974. The main facade presents a theatrical composition, pierced by large windows with double horizontal crosses, it is punctuated by the columns and ringed pilasters in the manner of the 16C, The elevation of the ground floor resumes almost identically that of the opera house Garnier, built in Paris during the same years. The clock is framed by two allegorical figures, Agriculture and Industry The campanile with four lead tigers are surmounted by putti carrying torches. On the pediment, putti hold the crown above the arms of the city. The coat of arms of Poitiers is composed of the lion of Aquitaine, the fleur-de-lis and nine besants which would represent the first aldermen. The motif is available in many places: pediments, friezes, ironwork, door handles but also parquet floors, paintings, stained glass …etc.

Poitiers hotel de ville front oct21

Poitiers hotel de ville right side oct21

Inside (we did not go in) you could see the Grand staircase ; a theatrical staircase stages the visitor’s ascent to the loggia. From this balcony, you can in turn see and be seen, The salle des mariages or wedding hall ,you see the portraits of Triumph of the Hymeneus (1882). Above the fireplace, Les époux before the Law (1884) in a more severe neo-classical style. The Salon d’Honneur, a former ballroom, retains a parquet floor inlaid with the coat of arms of the city. The stained-glass window represents Eleanor of Aquitaine confirming the town charter in 1199. The former municipal council chamber, today called the salle du blason or coat of arms, is adorned with a ceiling represents the city of Poitiers, under the features of a woman rewarding Work, accompanied by Strength, Justice, Charity and Peace.

The Poitiers tourist office on the city hall

The City of Poitiers and its city hall contacts

There you go folks, a brief on one of the must see in Poitiers according to many. For us the architecture and the ambiance in the square were enough to put it in my blog. Hope you enjoy the City/town Hall as we did.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!!

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