Discover Poitiers and its history

Living History

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Palace of the Dukes of Aquitaine ©ACAP

You may be wondering, but how does the city of Poitiers did she become famous? We answer you with “His story of course! ". Today we retrace the whole history of the city to make you want to come and explore it even more. Let's discover together its rich and varied history which spans more than two millennia.

Let's go back to the Gallo-Roman era

Did you know ?

The history of Poitiers dates back toGallo-Roman period, when the city was known as “Limonium“. This era was an important period in the history of the city, you will undoubtedly notice it while strolling in the city center.

Poitiers was a important administrative city and commercial hub key, being crossed by the Roman road linking Lyon to Saintes, which favored trade and the economic development of the region. It was also the capital of the Gallic tribe of Pictones, making her a political center et economic important.

Beyond the architecture, the town planning of the city was also influenced by the Romans. It should be known that the city was equipped with important infrastructures, in particular with public baths, an amphitheater, one of the vestiges of theold amphitheater is still visible rue Bourcani.

Holy Cross Museum©Thomas JELINEK – Agence Zebrelle
leaf stroke - Tourism Vienne

We tell you the story!

For the curious, the heritage of this period is still visible in Poitiers. Archaeological remains, sculptures and Roman inscriptions are exhibited in museums of the city, offering you an insight into life in the Gallo-Roman era.

Visit the Holy Cross Museum and admire the rich archaeological collections from Prehistory to the High Middle Ages !

Take a trip to the Middle Ages 

Although the Gallo-Roman period marked the city, the Middle ages was a more than momentous period for Poitiers and a major role in the history of France. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, Poitiers was a walled city and a religious center. the majestic St. Peter's Cathedral was a symbol of the Christian faith and Romanesque architecture.
Its construction began in the 11thth century, on the initiative of Eleanor of Aquitaine and has undergone many transformations and additions over the centuries. Wander through the city and you won't be able to miss this architectural beauty.

Le Palace was the residence of the Counts of Poitou-Dukes of Aquitaine, one of the most remarkable architectural ensembles from the Middle Ages in France. Famous historical figures such as that Eleanor, resided in Poitiers, contributing to its fame and influence. 

leaf stroke - Tourism Vienne

Focus on Eleanor of Aquitaine

Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the most remarkable women of themedieval history, is linked to the city of Poitiers. After her divorce from Louis VII, Eleanor of Aquitaine quickly married Henri Plantagenêt, who would later become King Henry II of England, in the magnificent St. Peter's Cathedral. The Palace of Poitiers, located near Saint-Pierre Cathedral, was the Eleanor's main residence. It was a place of diplomatic meetings, lavish receptions and important political decisions. Today, her legacy endures and the city of Poitiers proudly remembers this exceptional woman who marked its history.

Discover Eleanor
Stained glass window of the crucifixion at Saint-Pierre Cathedral in Poitiers©ACAP

The Middle Ages in Poitiers was also marked by major military events. At the time of The hundred years war, the city was the scene of the battle of Poitiers in 1356. This battle saw the defeat of the French against the English troops, and King Jean le Bon was captured. This event had a significant impact on the history of France and strengthened England's position in the conflict.

Architecturally, the Middle Ages left valuable traces in Poitiers. THE narrow streets of the old town are lined with half-timbered houses, witness to the medieval past of the city.
The medieval churches of Poitiers, such as Our Lady the Great et Saint-Hilaire-le-Grand, are magnificent examples of Romanesque architecture. Their ornate facades, their sculptures and their impressive stained glass windows testify to the know-how of medieval craftsmen. It is thanks to all these buildings that Poitiers holds its nickname of “the city of 100 steeples” due to the high number of churches and steeples.

Today, Poitiers is a dynamic city which combines history and modernity. Visitors can discover many historical sites, such as the St. Peter's Cathedral, the church of Notre-Dame-la-Grande and St. John's Baptistery. The city also has a rich medieval heritage with its picturesque alleys and half-timbered houses. Poitiers is a bustling student city, welcoming thousands of students every year. 

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Chasseigne Mill ©ACAP