The historic city of Rouen lies on the Seine River in the region of Normandy. Although a large part of the city was damaged during the World War II, there is still a great deal of ancient buildings in the old town, which was painstakingly restored.
Once described by the French writer Victor Hugo as the city of “a hundred spires”, Rouen boasts numerous architectural gems from different eras. The most famous of them is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame, immortalised by Claude Monet in many of his paintings. One of the largest and most impressive Gothic churches in France, Cathédrale Notre-Dame took almost 300 years to complete. Its 151-metre spire is the highest in the country.
A short walk away from the cathedral is the ornate Gros Horloge clock tower, which you can climb following a steep staircase to admire the clock’s mechanics and a magnificent view of the city. It is a real pleasure to wander along the winding narrow streets flanked by old half-timbered houses, stumbling upon Gothic architectural treasures. Check out the magnificent Palais de Justice with its detailed façade with elaborate gargoyles with a few shell holes left in the walls as reminders of an Allied bombing in 1944, which badly damaged the building.
Another fascinating landmark is the medieval Aître Saint-Maclou with macabre carved skulls and bones. During a plague outbreak, which devastated Rouen, the lovely green courtyard served as a burial ground and the building served as an ossuary.
|Gros Horloge Clock Tower|
The legendary Joan of Arc went on trial and was burnt at the stake in 1431 at the Place du Vieux Marché, which today is dominated by a striking looking modern Church Église Jeanne d'Arc.
Art buffs love Rouen’s excellent Fine Arts Museum with a large collection of paintings from the 15th to the 20th centuries that includes works by such masters as Rubens, Caravaggio, Corot, Modigliani, Monet and many others.
Photos via Flickr by: Frédéric BISSON, Julien Lozelli, Marko Kudjerski.