Poitiers (formerly known as Poitou) is one of the oldest cities in France. The city is part of the territory of Aquitaine owned by Eleanor of Aquitaine. Poitiers is the capital of the Vienne department, which is also the capital of the province of Poitou-Charentes. It is located 340 km from Paris, and 220 km from Bordeaux.
This old city keeps the history of civilization since 2000 years ago. Poitiers is classified as a city of art and history where there are hundreds of historic old buildings ranging from old churches, old buildings, town halls, old houses, and town squares. Besides being known as the old city, not far from the city center there is a fantasy park with the theme of future technology, namely Futuroscope.
Some names for Poitiers: City of 100 bells, City of art, culture, and history.
On the way around the city center of Poitiers, we will see large and magnificent churches. From the shape of the building, we will be able to know in what era the church or the old buildings in Poitiers were built. Ancient Roman churches and medieval streets where there are typical French wooden houses stand majestically as silent witnesses of the founding of the old city. The city also holds many historically important people, such as Saint Radegunda, Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Rabelais, and Joanne of Arc.
- Baptistre de St. Jean
This building is the oldest building still standing in Poitiers and is also one of the oldest religious buildings in Europe. Built-in the 4th century, it served as a baptistery for the inhabitants of Poitou in ancient Roman times. Baptisms can only be performed by the bishop of the city of Poitou on certain days, such as Easter, Christmas, or Pentecost. Inside this old building, there is only a large pond where the water source comes from the Clain river. The distribution of water into this building adapts the ancient Roman water distribution technique, where an aqueduct was built to channel water to houses. This water delivery technique can also be seen at the Pont du Gard (Avignon, South of France).
2. Art in the heart of the city
La Grande Rue is a narrow street that in medieval times was the main street where there is a center of art and culture. This street is one of the oldest streets in Poitiers where the Middle Ages reached their golden age. Currently, this street has not changed much, we can still see a painting shop, a book shop, an antique shop, an art gallery, and a small umbrella-making industry (Fabrique de parapluies).
In all cities in France, Hotel de Ville is in the city center. The Hotel de Ville in the city of Poitiers is one of the most beautiful town halls in France. This magnificent building consists of contrasting colors that make it look even more magnificent at night. Locals call this place Place d’Armes (Army Square).
- Quartier Moyenageaux (Middle Age Square)
The streets surrounding the church of Notre Dame de la Grande were a commercial center in the Middle Ages. The architecture is known as Maison pans de Bois (pan wood house), where the ground floor of the house is built with limestone (limestone) while the upper floor is built with wood (pan wood). This type of housing is often found in cities in France, starting from the center to the north. Since the Middle Ages, the function of this residential building is as a commercial center where the ground floor is used for shops while the upper part serves as a residence. Along the way, you will be treated to views of the modern shops and traditional markets of this medieval street.
- Palais de Justice
This palace building is the residence of the noble Poitou (Count of Poitou) in the 11th century. The ancient city of Poitou experienced a golden age for 2 centuries, marked by the arrival of artists from all over to settle. Apart from being a residence for nobles, this building also functions as a government center or also known as an administrative office. In 1789 during the French revolution, this building was converted into a courthouse.
- Notre Dame La Grande
The Church of Notre Dame le Grande, built in the 11th-12th centuries, is a masterpiece of ancient Roman heritage. On the facade of this church building, there are beautiful carvings where each level adapts the biblical story. The first level is a summary of the Old Testament, while the second level tells about the life of Jesus as written in the New Testament. The third level or the highest level is said to be the embodiment of heaven.
Following the characteristics of ancient Roman buildings, the Notre Dame la Grande church building is not tall. The interior of this church also seems dark because the peculiarity of the ancient Roman building is its thick walls. Even though it seems dark, the church of Notre Dame la Grande is one of the most beautiful masterpieces in the city of Poi