Tours, part three: towers!

St Julien at dusk

This here is the Eglise St-Julien, at dusk. I knew nothing about it at the time, but I was walking past and was completely fascinated by the swallows. We don’t get swallows in Australia!

According to Wikipedia, though, the building dates to the 13th century, but it belonged to a Benedictine abbey, which itself dated to the 6th century. I wonder if the tower might be a reconstruction or restoration of part of the 11th century building, rather than a complete fresh start after the nave collapsed in 1224, because that does not look like a typical 13th century tower to me. It’s got buttresses going on, yes, but it’s much, much more square than the shiny gothic facade on the other side.

At any rate, the whole thing’s a wine museum, now.

Speaking of very square things:

Tour d'Horlogue, ToursThe Tour de Horloge (clock tower), surviving from the original Romanesque basilica of St Martin de Tours. Some of the foundations might go back to the original 11th-century building, but I think most of it is from the 13th-century Romanesque basilica. (So perhaps I shouldn’t doubt St-Julien’s 13th-century credentials; I wouldn’t, if the rest of that church weren’t so screamingly Gothic.) I’m getting the impression that Tours wasn’t exactly at the forefront of architectural innovation in the Middle Ages.

Tour de CharlemagneYou can see here where the basilica adjoined the tower, and something of its style of decoration. That building lasted a good while, only to be destroyed by the Hugenots in the 18th century. So determined were they that St Martins should not be rebuilt, they put two whacking great roads through the area.

But never fear! A new St Martins was erected in the 19th century! It is, quite frankly, hideous. Although quite interesting – Neo-Byzantine architecture isn’t something I’ve had much cause to encounter.

There’s also the Tour de Charlemagne, but I liked the clock tower better.

Tour de Charlemagne, ToursThe Tour de Charlemagne has obviously undergone serious restoration on the front there.

Tours: full of towers. Who would’ve guessed?


5 Responses to “Tours, part three: towers!”

  1. Jonathan Jarrett Says:

    I’ll chance an opinion here, conditioned by the fact that the only architecture I know well is across the Pyrenees from here, but I think that St-Julien tower is actually thirteenth-century. I agree with you about the Romanesque blockiness, and it even has the Lombard friezing etc. at the top, but the windows are just not right; not twinned, and with columns at the sides not in the middle. I would side more happily with deliberately traditional, therefore, because the alternative would seem to be “at the same time as we were building real Gothic elsewhere, we put in some new neo-Classical window-frames here and left the rest alone”.

    I did not see the punchline coming and therefore must need more sleep.

    • highlyeccentric Says:

      … There’s a punchline? *hasn’t had her tea yet*

      I will bow to your superior knowledge of architecture. This conforms to my suspicion that church-builders in Tours were really rather conservative, so that works.

      • Jonathan Jarrett Says:

        The punchline as I saw it was the Tours=towers bit, which I did dimly realise but had never thought of trying to work. All confused by the Châtel Tournois on the coins I suspect, which doesn’t really follow the etymology.

        • highlyeccentric Says:

          Oh, my punchline! I thought you were implying that you’d made a punchline. NEVER MIND.

          Also, it took until the end of this post for me to realise that tours=towers, so.

  2. An update concerning swallows « The Naked Philologist Says:

    […] Comments highlyeccentric on Leeds update # 3: the one with the elephanthighlyeccentric on Tours, part three: towers!Jonathan Jarrett on Leeds update # 3: the one with the elephantJonathan Jarrett on Tours, part […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: