France, La Rochelle – A Port Town on the Atlantic Coastline
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Let's start in the very heart of the city at the town hall (Hôtel de Ville). The building was built in the Renaissance style between the 16th and 17th century. A wall surrounds it. The public can freely get inside it. Once you are finished with touring the town hall head to Grand Rue des Merciers. The street is sitauted at the northeast corner of the town hall. Lined with half-timbered medieval houses and Renaissance buildings you can walk inside arcades runing along one side of the streets. Inside the arcades, there are stores selling anythign you can think of.
Tour de la Lanterne is another adorable sight built in the 15th century. This one's original purpose was a lighthouse. It was even a prison for a while. Next go to Maison de Henri II, an opulent palace built in the 16th century. The then master sculptors' work are on display there.
Musée Protestant is our next target. At this place you can learn a lot about Protestantism in the city, for exaple about the Huguenots. Protestantism was largerly ousted from France. Yet there are still some Protestant temples to see. These were, however, largely transformed into Catholic churches. One of the remnants of the Protestant past is, for instance, the Great Temple on Place Verdun. The temple was founded in 1577 but transformed to a cathedral in 1628 already. Louis XIII gifted the Protestants a piece of land where they could build a new temple for they had had no place to worship. Unfortunately, the new temple was destroyed in the 1680s.
La Rochelle is first a port. Therefore, we should pay our attention to the very harbor itself. There are many beautiful fishing boats. The harbor is guarded by two medieval towers. The first, Tour Saint-Nicolas on the east side of the harbor. It was designed a fortress ready to defend the city from any invaders. Inside are many staircases , corridors, and rooms. The other tower – Tour de la Chaîne – was a part of defensive walls. Chaîne in its name means, well, chain. In the Middle-Ages, a chain put across the mouth to the harbor every night.
The city's history is linked to the sea. No wonder then that you can actualy visit a maritime museum here. La Rochelle's is situated in the docks. Visitors can walk on eight historic ships. There is a weather observation ship, a tugboat or a trawler.
We can't go further without paying a visit to at least onei of the mportant sacral sights. Cathédrale Saint-Louis is our pick. This monumental cathedral was finished in the Neoclassicist style in the mid-18th. Notice amazing interior featuring Baroque decorations and fascinating ceiling frescoes.
Text: Maxim Kucer
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