Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Two Medieval towns

We are fascinated with the history of Europe, particularly its medieval towns. Walking around towns like Salat and Belves really makes the past come alive and I want to share a couple photos from each of these two towns. They're both in the Dordogne valley where the feeling of the middle ages is very pervasive, with chateaux and castles along the river and little hamlets stone houses set here and there.

Sarlat is a warren of twisty lanes and streete full of tall ochre stone towers. Its old centre is so unchanged from medieval times that it's still used for period movies (of course without the cafes full of tourists).

We visited a manor there that's furnished with period pieces so we saw how the upper class lived.

Today we visited a smaller town, Belves as well as a 12th century abbey, Cadouin, also from the medieal times. Like all these churches , this one was added to over the centuries. I thought the cloister with its Gothic arches was stunning. 

Apparently this abbey was on the pilgrim's path for 800 years after some bishop brought back a piece of cloth from the Holy Land, reputed to be the shroud of Jesus. It was only in 1936 that they noticed some of the embroidery was in Arabic. 

In Belves after walking the narrow streets and admiring the architecture on the main square with its 12th century market place...

We visited the museum of the habitations of the troglodytes.  This group of underground dwellings was discovered about 25 years ago when a backhoe went through the road in front of the market building. They discovered a series of tiny connected rooms, each one a dwelling, where poor families lived from the 12th to the 18th centuries. Originally they were dug into the ditch that used to be the moat and it's shocking to see the conditions they lived in. The guide pointed out a hook in the ceiling of one room that was used for hanging a ham or possibly a swaddled baby to keep them off the floor and away from the rats. That's how the poor people lived. 

maybe I'm happy to be living in this century!

1 comment:

  1. Gorgeous pics! Makes me want to wander those cobblestone streets...


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