Amphitheatre at Saintes

Saintes was once the political capital of the Aquitaine. The Gallo-Roman amphitheatre bears witness to its prestigious past. Indeed this amphitheatre is one of the oldest in Roman Gaul and one of the best preserved.

Romanesque art

Romanesque art, most prominent in religious architecture, began in the kingdom of France around the year 1000, at the end of the Carolingian era.

Omni-present in the Charente Maritime, it then spread throughout Europe, picking up oriental and barbarian features on the way.
The spread of Romanesque art was linked to economic and demographic factors, as well as to the development of pilgrimages, especially the one to Santiago de Compostella. Their huge popularity meant that space was required to house the faithful in churches. It was for this reason that 11th and 12th century Saintonge saw the creation of some of the richest and most unusual examples of Romanesque art.

Santiago de Compostelle pilgrim ways

One of the main pilgrim ways to Santiago de Compostella runs inland through the Charente Maritime. 

Of especial interest is Saint Jean d’Angely, once an important stopping place and site of a superb abbey built to house a relic, the skull of St John the Baptist.
On its rocky spur, the medieval town of Pons is dominated by its keep, the only remains of an imposing medieval castle. On the Santiago de Compostella pilgrim way, Pons has an old hospice, unique in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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