Tuesday, February 16, 2010

June 12, 2009 - Rodez, France

Today, Rodez is a quiet, almost genteel city in the Aveyron department of southern France. It wasn't always that way, however. As if surviving an outrageous gaggle of occupiers - Celts, Romans, Visigoths, Franks, Arabs, the Dukes of Aquitaine, the Counts of Toulouse and then the dreaded English - wasn't bad enough, in medieval times, rivalry between the Counts and the Bishops of Rodez literally split the city in two with a double wall. This curious condition continued to confuse the natives, but worse yet, in the early Middle Ages the Knights Templar took up residence and actually sold the town to partially finance their first crusade. Rodez is built high on a hill above the river Aveyron and the old city is dominated by its huge 13th to 16th century Cathedrale Notre Dame. This red sandstone building is an architectural icon in France and one of the first Gothic buildings to be built in southern France.
The two main squares in the city, Place de la Cite and Place du Bourg, are connected by a network of medieval streets and alleyways, lined in parts with buildings from the 12th to 16th centuries.
With a population of 24,000, Rodez hosts an open-air market
in the square in front of the cathedral each Wednesday and Saturday morning and each Friday afternoon. Slideshow here.

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