Rouen is situated on the curve of the Seine River, 140 km northwest of the French capital.
Its long and rich history dates back to its founding by a Gaulish tribe, the Veliocasses who named it Ratumacos. When the Roman conquered Gaul, they changed its name to Rotomagus and it became a thriving gallo-roman settlement. Flash forward a few centuries, in the late 10th century, the Vikings overrun the Lower Seine Valley and took over Rouen. In 911 Rouen became the capital of the duchy of Normandy until William the Conqueror built his castle in Caen in 1060.
For a time, Rouen was a prosperous town of a thriving independent Norman duchy until 1204 when the King of France, Philip Augustus entered Rouen and annexed it to the French crown thus ending Normandy sovereignty status. Two centuries later, during the Hundred Years War Rouen surrendered to the King Henry V of England in 1419 who reclaimed Normandy back to the Plantagenet Dynasty. As the capital of English power in occupied France, Rouen became the site of Joan of Arc's trial and execution. She was burnt at the stake on Place du Marche May 1431. Rouen was recaptured by the French King Charles VII in 1449, ending 30 years of English occupation.
Over the centuries, Rouen thrived as a commercial and artistic center. In the Renaissance and throughout the 17th century it was renowned for its cloth, ceramics and naval capabilities. During WWII Rouen suffered much destruction as a number of historical monuments were heavily damaged during the Battle of Normandy that took place between March and August 1944. The city was liberated by the Canadian on August 30, 1944 ending a four year German occupation. In modern times the historic center of Rouen has been meticulously restored and since 2002 has been labelled by France's ministry of Culture and Patrimony as a City of Art and History.
Its mainly pedestrian core is fun to explore starting with the gothic Cathedral Notre Dame dating from the 12th century and remodelled in the 15th and 16th century, its two assymetric towers- Butter tower and Saint Romain and the central Lantern Tower dominate the city skyline. The intricately carved facade has been the favorite subject of painter Claude Monet in his 30 painting series of the cathedral executed between 1892-93 at different time and light of the day. The paintings can be viewed at the Orsay museum in Paris.
|Palais de Justice|
|Gros Horloge- OT Rouen|
|Musee des Beaux Arts-OT Rouen|
Join Enchanted France small group tour to Normandy and Loire Valley Castles this spring for a visit of Rouen .Click here for details.
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