Rien ne developpe l’intelligence comme les voyages – Emile Zola
Travel broadens the mind – Emile Zola
The grand city of Vienne boasts of its very very long association with history. It has a handful of tell-a-tale signs that reveal its ties with religion for ages. The very grand scale of these sites nudges one to call it ‘hallowed’ Vienne.
Jardin archéologique de Cybèle
Cybele was a ‘Great Mother of God’ goddess of Greek and Romans. Fragments of the bas relief dedicated to goddess Cybele were found in 1940 when the archaeological excavation of an area near the Temple of Augustus was undertaken in 1938. Hence the name, ‘Jardin archeologique de Cybele (archaeological garden of Cybele)’. The garden contains the remains of the ancient Gallo-Roman city. The three distinctive groups of the city that can be seen here are the arcade of a portico, a huge wall of a quadrangular assembly room, and the remains of the residential area with terraces.
Cathedrale de Saint Maurice
It is a Roman Catholic church dedicated to Saint Maurice. It was built gradually from the 4th century BC till the 16th century. Every successive master builder of the cathedral showed inclusivity by retaining the original Gallo-Roman fragments, Romanesque features, and Gothic chapels while adding newer dimensions.
Portals on the West façade date back to the 14th century. These portals boast of various figures from the holy history of Christianity in the ‘flamboyant style’ that entraps the attention of the visitor.
The Western Portals open to a flight of steps leading to the river Rhone at a short distance.
However, the cathedral fell victim to the Wars of Religion between 1561 till 1567 and had been mercilessly pillaged.
The beautiful mosaics however escaped fate and are as fresh as ever!
Musee Lapidaire Saint Pierre
Lapidaire (English: Lapidary) stands for the practice of shaping stone, minerals, or gemstones into decorative items such as cabochons, engraved gems, and faceted designs. Saint Pierre Church is one of the oldest churches in France (around 5th Century). It was restored in the 12th century and was converted into a museum in 1876, which we know of today as Musee Lapidaire Saint Pierre. It houses several important sets of lapidaries from ancient Vienne, mosaics, monuments, and Roman sculptures like Tutela and Appolo Archer.
The time now to relax by the riverside and soak in views of the hallowed city from la Passarelle (the footbridge).
Situated along the river Rhone, Vienne had been a city of prominence since ancient days. Rhone provided and still continues to provide the necessary channel for trade (textile and metallurgical industries) and leisure (tourism).
There are other remarkable sites as well like the Roman Theater(built around 40AD with a seating capacity of 13,000 spectators where the famous Jazz festival of Vienne is held every year), Roman Circus (a 20m stone obelisk), Jardin du 8 Mai 1945 (commemorating the victory of allied forces in the 2nd world war), Mont Pipet (the highest point in the city with Chapelle Notre Dame de la Salette and the statue of the Virgin) etc
It’s difficult to say goodbye to this grand, hallowed city. But don’t we have to visit the other alluring destinations?
Click here for a short video of today’s tour.
Click here for posts so far in the “Exploring l’Hexagone” series