Visit to Autun – an ancient Roman City

The Amphitheatre- the largest in the Western Roman World

The Amphitheatre- the largest in the Western Roman World

Silhouette, Roger’s barge was in the shipyard in St Jean de Losne. As the repairs were completed, he asked us could we bring him and Elham to St Jean so they could bring the boat back to Chalon.  We used the trip to St Jean de Losne as an opportunity to visit the ancient Roman city of Autun.

Roger and Elham beside Silhoutte

Roger and Elham beside Silhoutte

To get to Autun from St Jean de Losne we had to go via Beaune and thus drove through one of the major centres of vine production. You could see many people working in the vineyards cutting back the vines and burning the cut offs. It was 2 degrees, so very cold for working outdoors.

Many people have suggested we visit Autun as it has some well preserved Roman structures and even to this day, you can clearly see the outlines of the Roman fortifications. As it’s January, all the museums in the area are closed so our tour was confined to churches and public spaces.

Vines going by the side of the road

Vines going by the side of the road

Autun is a city in the Saone-et-Loire department in Burgundy on high ground near the Morvan Mountains. It was founded during the early Roman Empire by Emperor Augustus who called it Augustodunum and gave it as a Roman capital to the Gallic people Aedui, allies of the Romans. In Roman times the city could be home to 30,000 to 100,000 people according to different estimates.

Nuala replaces a Roman actor

Nuala replaces a Roman actor

The city had two ancient Roman gates (the Porte St.-André and Porte d’Arroux) and other ruins dating to the time of Augustus. One of the most impressive remains is that of the ancient theatre, which was one of the largest in the western part of the empire with a 17,000 seat capacity.

The weather was very cold so we did not go to see the remains of Temple of Janus. Instead we walked through the old city centre and visited the Cathedral of St. Lazare’s, (his relic is kept here) which dates from the early twelfth century and is a major example of Romanesque architecture.  We also had a look at the Church of Notre Dame which is attached to Lycée Bonaparte, a school which was attended by Napoleon Bonaparte and his brothers and still operates as a school today.

As I said it was very cold with snow on the hills so after lunch we visited the Amphitheatre and then headed back to our home in Chalon. We had been up since 6am as we had to be in St. Jean de Losne for 8:30am, a very early start for us!

Some of this information courtesy of Wikipedia


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