Monday, November 27, 2006

Historic Center

The Parlement de Bretagne (Parliament of Brittany, Plasenn Breujoù Breizh) is arguably the most famous building in Rennes. It was rebuilt after a terrible fire in 1994. It houses the Rennes court of appeal.
Colorful traditional timber frame houses are situated primarily along the roads Saint-Sauveur, Saint-Georges, de Saint-Malo, Saint-Guillaume, des Dames, du chapitre, Vasselot, Saint-Michel, de la Psallette and around the plazas of Champ-Jacquet, des Lices, Saint-Anne and Rallier-du-Baty.

Polychromatic wooden busts from the 16th century, in the façade of 20 rue du Chapitre.
Basilica Saint-Sauveur
Place des Lices and surrounding area
Les Halles Martenot of the 19th century, built between 1868 and 1871 by Jean-Baptiste Martenot, host the market on Saturday mornings (the third largest market in France).
The Mordelaises Gate (Portes Mordelaises), chatelet with two towers and a drawbridge
The remaining fortifications of the 3rd century
The Jehan Duchesne tower of the 15th century, on rue Nantaise
The 15th century ramparts east of the Gallo-Roman fortifications, in place Rallier-du-Baty.
Place Saint-Anne (Plasenn Santez-Anna)
Saint-Aubin Church
Location of a former 14th century hospital
Jacobite convent
La rue Saint-Michel nicknamed rue de la soif (road of thirst) because there are bars all along this street.
Area from Saint-Mélaine to Place Saint-Mélaine
Notre-Dame en Saint-Mélaine Church,
tower and transept from the 11th century Benedictine abbey of Saint-Mélaine
14th century Gothic arcades
17th century columnar façade
bell tower topped with a gilded Virgin Mary (19th century)
17th century cloister
Magnificent park, The Parc Thabor, (formal French garden, orangerie, rose garden, aviary), on 10 hectares of land, built between 1860 and 1867.

Thabor park's bandstand.
The 17th century promenade "la Motte à Madame", with monumental stair, Near the rue de Paris entrance to the Thabor.
Rue Saint-Georges and rue Gambetta
1920's Saint George Municipal Pool, with mosaics
Saint George Palace, and its garden
Place de la Mairie (City Hall Plaza, Plasenn Ti Ker)
City Hall
Place du Vau-Saint-Germain
Vau de Saint-Germain Church
Saint-Germain footbridge, 20th century wood and metal construction to link the plaza with Émile Zola Quay.
Place du Champ-Jacquet
statue of Leperdit ripping up a conscription list.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

History of Rennes

Rennes is the capital of the région of Brittany, in France. It has a long history due to its location at the confluence of two rivers.
The eastern Armorican people of Redones founded Condate— an ancient Celtic word meaning confluent— at the confluence of the Ille and Vilaine rivers and made it the capital of a territory that extended to the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel. The name of the city of Redon also reflects that of the Redones. Early in the 1st century BCE, they adopted the Greek and Roman practice of issuing coinage [1], adapting the widely-imitated gold staters of Philip II of Macedon, in the characteristic Celtic coin metal alloy called billion. Without inscriptions, as the Celtic practice was, the Redones coinage features a carioteer whose pony has a human head. Large hoards of their coins were unearthed in the "treasure of Amanlis" found in June 1835 and that of Saint-Jacques-de-la-Lande, discovered in February 1941. The Museum at Rennes contains a large representative collection.
They joined the Gaulish coalition against Rome in 57 BCE, which was suppressed by Crassus. The following year, Roman emissaries were held hostage by the Redones, which obliged Julius Caesar to intervene in Armorica and suppress the rebels, and the following year to cross the Channel to discourage further support of the Redones by the Britons. In 52 the Redones responded to the call of Vercingetorix to furnish a large contingent of warriors (Caesar, Gallic Wars II.34; VII.75).
Roman era
In the Roman era, Condate became Condate Riedonum, capital of civitas riedonum
The oldest known rennais is Titus Flavius Postuminus, known to us from his steles found in Rennes in 1968. As indicated by his name, he would have been born under the Flavian dynasty, under the reign of Titus, i.e. between 79 and 81 AD. One of the steles tell us, in Latin, that he took charge over all the public affairs in the Civitas Riedonum. He was twice duumvir and flamine for life for Mars Mullo.
During the Roman era, the strategic position of the town contributed to its importance. To the west the principal Roman route, via Osismii stretched from Condate to Vorgium (modern Carhaix).
In the year 275, the threat of barbarians led to the erection of a robust brick wall around Rennes. Rennes became known as the "red town".
Once threatened by the danger of bagaudes at the end of the Roman Empire in the 5th century, the Armorican peninsula, including Brittany and therefore Rennes, made up the last of the stronghold of the western Roman Empire. The invincible Armorican Romans held their ground against Clovis I, who occupied most of Alamans, then the Visigoths. Melaine, the bishop of Rennes, played an important role in the peace treaty between the Franks and the Armoricans in the year 497. He famously declared "Il faut faire la paix entre chrétiens" ("Peace must be made between Christians").
Middle Ages
Starting in the fifth century, Bretons occupied the western part of the Armorican penensula, which started to be called little Britain, and then Brittany, while the Franks took the rest of Armorica. To contain the expansion and avoid Breton incursions, the Carolingians instituted a Breton march, composed of the counties of Rennes, Nantes, and Vannes.
These marches were entirely absorbed by the Breton Kingdom in the ninth century, and Rennes became Breton in 851. Rennes would later become the capital of Ducal Brittany.
During the Breton War of Succession, in 1356 and 1357, the city was sieged by the Duke of Lancaster, brother of the English king, but Bertrand du Guesclin slipped into the city and took over the resistance, which would ultimately be victorious. After nearly a year, Lancaster renounced the English siege in 1357.

The Cité Judiciaire, an example of the striking modern architecture present in Rennes.
In 1491, it was the French army of Charles VIII, led by his general, La Trémoïlle, that unsuccessfully attacked Rennes. Brittany having already capitulated elsewhere, Rennes alone still resisted. The defenders of Rennes were determined to resist to the death, but the Duchess Anne of Brittany chose instead to negotiate. By her marriage to Charles VIII, she made Brittany a part of France. Anne jealously guarded Brittany's autonomy, but the duchy was eventually fully merged with the French crown by her daughter Claude of France.
Modern era
In 1857 Rennes train station was built, which gradually led to the southward sprawl of the town. In 1899 the trial for Alfred Dreyfus' affair took part in Rennes.