Sunday, September 20, 2015

Patrimone Weekend

Abbaye Ronceray
Patrimone Weekend is a great idea that we ought to copy in the United States. One weekend each year many museums and historical buildings open their doors to the public and allow people to visit free of charge. In addition, there are musical performances, art exhibits, lectures and various other activities. Some buildings that are normally vacant, have special temporary exhibits. The idea is to inspire an appreciation for the rich culture and history of France.

In Angers, and particularly the neighborhood where we live, this means that there are crowds of people walking through the streets enjoying events on the street and getting to see the inside of buildings that usually either are closed to the public or charge an admission fee. It is difficult to tell what is on the other side of the walls of medieval buildings so it has been fun to get to see the inside of the courtyards and homes around us, as well as parts of well known tourist attractions that are usually off-limits.

Because of the abundance of historical buildings in Angers, many buildings have been used for many different purposes over the years so it is interesting to see how they have been reconfigured for various uses. For example, an abbey that is down the hill from us (Abbaye Ronceray), which was constructed beginning in 1028, has been used since 1815 as part of an elite arts and technical school. The ruins of another medieval fortification and religious structure were incorporated into a modern Jewish synagogue.

Hospital Saint-Jean was created in approximately 1180 by King Henry II of England (who was also the Count of Anjou) as part of his atonement for the murder of Thomas Becket. It was in use for approximately 700 years as the primary hospital in Angers is now used as a tapestry museum.

Hospital St. Jean
Interior of Hospital
Hospital cloister
The granaries and wine cellars that were associated with the hospital (approximately 1000 years old) are now used as a performance facility and meeting place.

Greniers et Caves Saint-Jean
Greniers et Caves Saint-Jean

The Bishop's Palace or Episcopal Palace is now used for offices.

Bishop's Palace
Figures from Cathedral    

The Hotel des Penitentes was home for repentant women of the night, and their children, beginning in the 15th century and is now a conference center.

Hotel des Penitentes
Hotel des Penitentes
The Chateau de la Perriere, which is a relatively new building constructed in the 17th century, is now a golf course, conference center and upscale restaurant.      

Chateau de la Perriere

Ceiling of salon in Chateau de la Perriere
The amazing thing is that all of these places are within walking distance of our house.  Most of them are only a couple of blocks away from us.

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