Joan of Arc, Claude Monet, Roy Lichtenstein, Victor Hugo, J.M.W. Turner, the Hundred Years’ War, and structures and architecture from the Middle Ages and Renaissance times: A visit to Rouen is a trip back through some of the world’s most important moments in history, art, architecture, and culture.
This is in part because back in the Middle Ages, Rouen was considered one of the largest and wealthiest cities in medieval Europe. With so much history to see here, the only choice you need to make is how., whether it's a guided walk, a bike ride, or independent exploration.
The Old Market Square is of course one of the most historic spots not only in town but in all of France. This is where Joan of Arc was martyred in 1431. Joan of Arc, nicknamed the Maid of Orléans, remains one of the world’s best-loved heroines. Canonized as a Roman Catholic saint, a teenage Joan d’Arc said she received visions of the Archangel Michael, Saint Catherine, and Saint Margaret and eventually helped to turn the tide of the Hundred Years’ War (a war which actually raged on for 116 years). Joan was eventually captured, held prisoner in Rouen, tried, and burned at the stake when she was only nineteen. In 1456, she was declared innocent and a martyr and has remained an important symbol of France ever since. A church named St. Joan’s now stands in the square and a sign marks the spot where she died.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame (often referred to as the Rouen Cathedral) will surely be recognizable to all fans of great art. It was one of Claude Monet’s favorite subjects and he painted it numerous times to capture the differences in the alternating light throughout the day. So many times, in fact, that paintings of the cathedral can be found hanging in many museums throughout the world. Other painters have been inspired by the cathedral as well, notably pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. A Roman Catholic church, constructed in the Gothic style, the church was long famous for its magnificent choir.
The Great Clock is another landmark that has inspired famous artists throughout the centuries, including author Victor Hugo and painter J.M.W. Turner. First built in 1389, the clock is one of the oldest mechanisms in France. The clock was moved to its current location in a Renaissance arch in 1529 and is a stunning sight for all to see.
And spend time touring the rest of the Medieval Quarter as well, known for its lovely half-timbered homes and buildings, public gardens, and historic streets.
Be taken back in time to Rouen's medieval past when sailing along the Seine River.