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Cultural Attraction in Burgundy

The Burgundy region is one of the most interesting parts of France, renowned for its impressive historic monuments. The countryside of deeply wooded forests and green rolling hills abounds with cultural treasures: amazing Romanesque churches, medieval towns, picturesque villages, and awe-inspiring abbeys. The numerous magnificent and well-preserved ancient buildings bear witness to the region's former power and prosperity.

 

There are more than 300 churches in Burgundy, including masterpieces of architecture in Cluny, Dijon, Paray-le-Monial, and Tournus, and the spectacular Cathedral of Auxerre. Other must-see attractions are the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the village of Vézelay with its stunning Romanesque church and the old Cistercian Abbey of Fontenay. The region has its own unique culture. Burgundian buildings feature a distinctive architecture of colorful tiled roofs, and the hearty cuisine is famously delicious. Visitors should sample local specialties such as escargot, boeuf bourguignon, and poulet à la moutarde (chicken in mustard sauce) to truly savor quintessential France.

DIJON

 

The stately palaces and historic churches of Dijon reflect the city's aristocratic heritage. During the Middle Ages, Dijon was the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy, and the Dukes lived in elegant mansions called "hôtels particuliers" that still grace the city with their impressive facades. The top tourist attraction is the Palais des Ducs at the historic center of town. This medieval palace allows visitors to imagine the grandiosity of Ducal life, which included lavish gourmet banquets. Housed inside a wing of the Palais des Ducs, is the renowned Museum of Fine Arts, which ranks among the best art museums in France. The collection ranges from Egyptian antiquities to medieval art and Renaissance Burgundian sculptures.

Another excellent museum in Dijon is the Musée Magnin that displays an extensive collection of French 17th-century and 19th-century painting. The most important church in Dijon is the Eglise Notre-Dame built in the 13th century in glorious Burgundian Gothic style. 

BEAUNE

This lovely historic town was another residence of the Dukes of Burgundy. Beaune's great attraction is the Old World charm found in its cobblestone streets lined with medieval houses. The central feature of the town is the Place Monge, with a tower from the 13th to 14th centuries. Beaune's main sight is the Hôtel-Dieu, a hospital for the poor built by Chancellor Nicolas Rolin and his wife in the mid 15th century. The distinctive Flemish Gothic half-timbered building has a colorful roof of geometric patterned tiles and a graceful courtyard. The Hôtel-Dieu now houses a museum with exquisite tapestries and a renowned 15th-century polyptych of the Last Judgment by Rogier van der Weyden. Continuing north of the Hôtel-Dieu, visitors will find the Collégiale Basilique Notre-Dame. This church is called the "Daughter of Cluny" because it exemplifies Romanesque architecture developed in nearby Cluny, with a three-aisled basilica and a square tower over the crossing. The church possesses a 12th-century statue of the Virgin Mary and splendid 15th-century tapestries. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, housed in part of the 18th-century Town Hall (originally an Ursuline convent), displays archeological finds and French and Flemish paintings of the 17th to 19th centuries.

VEZELAY

 

Surrounded by ancient ramparts, the enchanting village of Vézelay stands on the top of a hill overlooking the majestic Monts du Morvan mountain range. Listed as one of the "Plus Beaux Villages" (Most Beautiful Villages) of France, Vézelay charms visitors with its gorgeous setting, gracious Renaissance houses, and exquisite Romanesque Basilica. Crowning the village, the UNESCO-listed Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine is a former abbey church founded in the 12th century at the commencement of the Second Crusades. This sacred site was a medieval pilgrimage destination on the "Way of Saint James" trail to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The Basilica still functions as a monastery and attracts many pilgrims. Open to the public year-round, the Basilica is often filled with inspiring music sung by monks and nuns of the "Fraternités Monastiques" (Monastic Brotherhood). From the vantage point of the Basilica, there are sweeping views of the Burgundian landscape. The quaint village is also a pleasure to explore. Tourists will enjoy strolling the quaint, narrow streets, admiring the old stone houses with their decorative detailing. Many buildings feature traditional paned windows.

AUTUN AND HIS CATHEDRAL ST LAZARE

 

Thanks to its proximity to a beautiful nature site, Autun is called the "gateway to the Morvan Mountains." The town has a distinguished history dating back to Roman times. On the east side of the town are ruins of the largest Roman theater in Gaul, which once seated 20,000 spectators; the ancient town gates (Porte d'Arroux and Porte St-André); and the imposing remains of the Temple of Janus.

Autun's most important tourist attraction is the 12th-century Cathédrale Saint-Lazare, one of the finest examples of Cluniac architecture. In typical Romanesque style, the cathedral has a floor plan shaped like a Latin cross, an aisled nave, a plain transept, and a choir with a semicircular end. The spire was built by Cardinal Rolin in the 15th century. A superb Last Judgment sculpture by an artist named as Gislebertus adorns the main doorway. Take time to admire the cathedral's lavish facade-the medallions on the tympanum and intricately carved capitals of three columns are masterpieces of medieval sculpture. The interior features a profusion of exquisite Romanesque capitals, some are original and others have been replaced. The sanctuary has multiple richly decorated chapels, and the third one on the left contains the Martyrdom of Saint Symphorien painting by Ingres (1834). Spend a few moments to appreciate the artist's talent in painting this expressive work, especially his technical skill in creating a complicated three-dimensional crowd scene.

BIBRACTE - A CELTIC ARCHEOLOGICAL SITE

 

People inhabited the Morvan long before the calender. The best example of that are the Gauliers that have founded a large trading town named Bibracte on the Mont Beuvray. The Romans, being tempted by the craftmanship of the Gauliers, have expelled the Gauliers commanded by Julius Caesar and incorporated this region including Bibracte into the Roman empire. A few decades after the Roman conquest, Bibracte was abandoned in favour of Autun, 25 kilometres from Mont Beuvray. Without a continuous settlement to disturb or efface the site, Bibracte remained for modern archaeology to rediscover. The first excavations were begun at the site by the wine merchant Gabriel Bulliot between 1867 and 1895. His nephew Joseph Déchelette, author of a famous Manuel d’Archéologie continued the excavations between 1897 and 1907 Today Mont Beuvray is generally credited as the ancient Bibracte. The top of Mont Beuvray offers a stunning view over the Morvan and the rest of Burgundy. The site is an archaeological park at the centre of a protected forest, and a site of cooperative European archaeological efforts, a training ground for young archaeologists as well as a centre for interpreting Gaulish culture for a popular audience.  Walking through the area Bibracte comes to life under your feet. You see fortification walls, foundations of working places and of a complete residence. Excavations are still taking place and you can see the archaeologists at work. In the museum at the foot of the mountain you can get to know Celtic culture. Bibracte is worth a visit. 

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