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Coordinates: 45°44′47″N 0°38′00″W / 45.7463888889°N 0.633333333333°W / 45.7463888889; -0.633333333333

Commune of Saintes

Saintes.jpg
Saintes historic district
Location
Saintes, Charente-Maritime is located in France
Saintes, Charente-Maritime
Administration
Country France
Region Poitou-Charentes
Department Charente-Maritime
Arrondissement Saintes
Mayor Jean Rouger
(2008–Incumbent)
Statistics
Elevation 2–81 m (6.6–270 ft)
(avg. 47 m/150 ft)
Land area1 45.55 km2 (17.59 sq mi)
Population2 25,595  (1999)
 - Density 562 /km2 (1,460 /sq mi)
Miscellaneous
INSEE/Postal code 17415/ 17100
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Saintes is a commune in south-western France, in the Charente-Maritime department of which it is a sub-prefecture.

Contents

History

Amphitheatre of Saintes
Triumphal arch of Germanicus (originally built in AD 19), at the right shores of river Charente, ancient part of old roman city Mediolanum Santonum

In Roman times, the town was called Mediolanum Santonum. It was founded in about 20 BC. Some estimations show that Saintes had about 15,000 inhabitants in those days, and that its borders were almost the same as today.

Saintes was the capital of the former province of Saintonge. It was the scene of the second phase of the Saintonge War, in 1242, when the army of Hugh X was besieged by that of Louis IX and Alphonse of Poitiers.

Apse and church tower of the Abbaye aux Dames

The French Wars of Religion hit Saintes during most of the 16th century since many Protestants inhabited the region. Bernard Palissy, one of them, saw that difficult period.

In 1730 a new era began with the construction of the hôtel du Marquis de Monconseil which was the commencement of numerous changes in the city landscape.

During the early years of the French Revolution, the town was the political base of André Antoine Bernard, a Jacobin revolutionary who represented Saintes in the Legislative Assembly of 1791-1792 and the National Convention of 1792-1795 and was among those responsible for the Reign of Terror.

Guéau de Reverseaux and others created the principal thoroughfares of Saintes like the Cours National, which opened in 1815, or the Cours Reverseaux. In 1810, La Rochelle became the chef-lieu du département, but the displeasure of the population declined since Saintes kept the Cour d'Assise, which led to the construction of a new Palais de Justice in 1863.

In 1843 Prosper Mérimée saved the Arc de Germanicus, but the old bridge was destroyed. The Haras National de Saintes was created in 1846 and the town stretched out to the east. The right bank, which was formerly confined to a small faubourg surrounding the Abbaye aux Dames, evolved when the railway arrived in Saintes. The station was built in 1867 and the avenue Gambetta linked it to the Charente. The 20th century saw the destruction of parts of the station neighbourhood during World War II, but also the creation of new housing units and commerces in the areas of Bellevue and Recouvrance.

Geography

Saintes is located on the banks of the Charente River, between La Rochelle and Bordeaux (on the autoroute A10). The town is divided in several administrative areas (La Fenêtre, Recouvrance, Les Tourneurs, Les Boiffiers, Sain-Vivien, Saint-Pierre, Gare-Abbaye, Bellevue, La Récluse et S. De Bouard).

Sights

Cathédrale Saint Pierre
Basilique Saint-Eutrope in Saintes
  • The Arch of Germanicus, a triumphal arch, was built at the entrance to a bridge, where the main Roman road crossed the Charente River. The bridge was demolished in 1843 but the Arch was saved by Prosper Mérimée and rebuilt at its present location on the bank of the river.
  • Ruins of the Roman amphitheatre can be found on the left bank of the Charente, near the summit of the hill upon which the town was built. It is notable in that its tiers (the cavea) are built against the hill and an embankment.
  • Some remnants of the thermae of Saint-Saloine (First century) are also visible, in particular an aqueduct.
  • Fragments of the 3rd century rampart can be seen in the Place des Récollets. It was built with stones taken from the Roman buildings.
  • The Abbaye-aux-Dames, Madame de Montespan was educated here.
  • Saintes is also known for its other churches: the Basilique Saint-Eutrope and the Cathédrale Saint-Pierre. Saintes Cathedral: [1] Basilique Saint-Eutrope: [2],[3]

The main museums include:

  • the Musée archéologique, which owns a Roman cart of the 1st century amongst a collection of sculptures and inscriptions.
  • the Musée du Présidial, which has a mannerist architecture and a collection of regional ceramics and paintings of the 15th to 18th century.
  • the Musée de l'Échevinage, which exhibits porcelain of Sèvres and paintings of the 19th and 20th century

Education

  • The collèges include: the Collège René Caillié, the Collège Agrippa d'Aubigné, the Collège Edgar Quinet and the Collège Jeanne d'Arc.
  • The lycées include: the Lycée de Bellevue, the Lycée Bernard-Palissy, the Lycée Notre-Dame-de-Recouvrance and the Lycée Georges Desclaude (agricultural instruction).
  • Two American Universities conduct year round study abroad programs at the C.E.A.U., the University of Houston's Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture, and the University of Southern California.

Twin towns


Saintes is twinned with:

See also

References

External links

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