The Stevenage-Ingelheim-Autun Association

 

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      Autun

        

Autun is in the Saône-et-Loire region of Burgundy, it is a small town, sturdily surrounded by fortified walls (ramparts) around the old town, and in an attractive setting with the Morvan Hills behind. Founded by the Emperor Augustus 2000 years ago, it was known as the "sister and rival of Rome". Although many of the original Roman structures were destroyed throughout the ages, the town was an active and lively Roman Centre, and it is still the Roman remains that are one of the big attractions. The old streets wind a crooked path around the old town, as it tumbles down the hillside and looks out onto the artificial lake of Plan D'Eau du Vallon.

The twelfth-century Cathédral St Lazare is an attractive Roman style cathedral within the town walls, and is above all famed for its carvings and sculptures by Gislebertus, generally accepted as one of the greatest Romanesque sculptors. The best example is the tympanum of the Last Judgement above the west door.

The old prison in Autun is set on a circular plan, it was one of the first prisons in France to be built around individual 'prison cells'.

The Roman remains in and around Autun include two of the city's four Roman gates, Porte St-André, spanning rue de la Croix-Blanche in the northeast, and Porte d'Arroux in Faubourg d'Aroux in the northwest. The amphitheatre which was the largest Roman theatre in ancient Gaul, its authenticity is enhanced in July and August by the performances of a play in which six hundred locals, dressed in period costume, reconstruct the Gallo-Roman past of the Town. In a field just across the River Arroux stands the remains of Temple of Janus. The two brick walls that remain are part of the square cella, or central area of the temple where the god dwelled. Around the cella was a gallery, which supported a roof, the holes for the beams can be seen in the ruins. But the most interesting remain is the slightly curious pyramid Pierre de Couhard at the south of the town, it's a 27 metre tall stone pyramid, thought to date from the first century, and most probably either a tomb or a cenotaph.

 

 

 

  © 2008 The Stevenage-Ingelheim-Autun Association