Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Arles Museum

In 49 BC, in the midst of a conflict between Julius Caesar and Pompey, Arles supported Caesar. After Caesar's victory Arles was rewarded, becoming a colony under Roman law, being granted Roman citizenship and becoming a more important centre, with a large amphitheatre, forum, baths, and circus for chariot races and other events. Many artifacts from that time are on display here. There are the remnants of marble columns, a bust of Caesar, a number of mosaic floors, beautiful jewelry and household goods.  There are also water pipes from the aqueduct and the city water system.

Arles is on the Rhone River, and was part of an important trade route. One of the amazing and quite recent (2004) finds is that of a river cargo boat which sank in 50 A.D.   It is 30 metres in length and was loaded with limestone blocks. It is incredibly well preserved, and was found under 9 meters of water with all gear and tool intact.

As usual, I took lots of pictures....

Monday, 6 February 2017

Cloisters, Cryptoporticos, Ancient Graveyard and Van Gogh & Gauguin

The cloisters of St. Trophime date from the 12th century and consist of the cloisters courtyard, chapterhouse, refectory,  and Bishop's Palace.  Expansion was done in both the 14th and 15th century.

The Cryptoporticos was part of the Roman forum complex from the 2nd century.  They made up the arcades and shops that served that busy area. They are now more than 6 metres underground, and make for quite a spooky walk!

The Alycamps is the Roman and Medieval Graveyard, also known as the City of the Dead.  It was one of the most famous cemeteries in the western world.  Both St. Honorat and Genesis,  the Martyres from Arles were buried here. The church, built in the 12th century is named for St. Honorat. Pilgrims to St. Jacques de Compostelle stopped here to pray to the relics. Although the impressive sarcophagus have been moved to the museum, it is still a beautiful place.

This is the first place where Van Gogh and Gauguin painted together when they shared a house in Arles in 1888.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Last Days in Arles....The Roman Arena & Theatre, and the Montmajour Abbey

Arles military support for Julius Caesar against Pompey helped to make Arles a major centre,  with a Roman Forum, Arena, and Theatre.   The arena built in the 1st century A.D., held up to 20,000 and was used for gladiator contests, wild animals, hunting etc, while the Theatre was reserved for cultural events. This, in a sense holds true today, with bullfights taking place in the arena, and concerts at the theatre.

The Montmajour Abbey was begun in the 9th century just outside Arles by Benedictine monks. It was expanded during the 12th century and fortified during the Hundred Years War.   The crypt was built into the rock face, and it has the most extraordinary Rock Cemetery!  The cloisters have fabulous sculptures both of Saints and monsters & beasts.

The abbey is built high on a hill and has a spectacular view. Not surprisingly it was another of Van Gogh's favorite spots.  He did over 20 paintings from here.

Finally, I visited the Musée Reattu, an art gallery that is housed in the original house of the Knights Hospitalers in Arles. This very unique venue has a wonderful collection, including a number of Picasso sketches.

Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

The Palais du Papes

Construction of this impressive Gothic palace began in 1252 and became the Pope's residence in 1309. Subsequent Popes added to the building between 1334 and 1364.

It was eventually an astounding 118,403 square feet! The Grand Chapel alone is 150 feet long.

In 1316,  500 church officials worked here, in addition to  1,000 lay workers.

But, in 1370 the decision was made to return the Papal centre to Rome.

The building served many other purposes in the following years, including a fort and prison, but thankfully has been resurrected and is now a world heritage site.

I loved my visit here, and was very impressed with how well organized and how informative tour was. I hope you enjoy the pictures!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Chartreuse: 14th century monastery

Founded by Pope Innocent VI in 1353 this monastery is located in Villeneuve-lez-Avignon, across the Rhone River from the city proper. It was built over the next twenty years in the Gothic style, and contains the tomb of Pope Innocent VI who died in 1362.

The monastery consists of the cloisters, 40 monks cells, the chapterhouse, refectory, laundry, herb garden, and " isolation cells " used for the sick, or monks being punished for transgressions. ...and of course the church.

Some of the site is in ruins, but much of it is in really good repair.   The gardens are lovely, and the setting spectacular, with the 12th century Fort St. Andrew looming above.......more on the fort later.

Hope you like the pictures. ...

Monday, 27 February 2017

Fort St. Andrew Avignon

In 1291 King Phillip IV  built Fort St. Andrew on what was then the border between France and the Holy Roman Empire. His ambition was to assert his power and expand the territory of France.  And, of course, Avignon was at the time the residence of the Pope's.  Although Philip did not live to see those results, Avignon and the rest of Provence became part of France.

When I was at the fort the walk along the ramparts, and the visit to the tiny chapel were much enhanced by the sight and scent of the numerous apple trees which were in full bloom.  Spring is very much in evidence here.  It's lovely!  There are photos. ...

Photos: January 31: Arles
Photos: February 01: Arles
Photos: February 02: Arles
Photos: February 04: Arles
Photos: February 05: Arles
Photos: February 06: Arles
Photos: February 07: Arles