Bayeux is renowned throughout the world for its 11th century Tapestry, registered in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register, and boasts an exceptional architectural heritage, mainly dating back to the medieval period.
Bayeux through the ages
Founded under the name “Augustodurum” in Gallo-Roman times, the city was surrounded by ramparts in the 3rd century to protect itself from invasions. Integrated in 924 into the domain of the Viking chieftain Rollon, the first duke of Normandy, it became the most important city in Normandy after Rouen. A castle was built in 960 by the 3rd Duke of Normandy, Richard I.
During the medieval period, five villages were created outside the enclosure, reflecting the development of the city at that time. Under the impetus of Bishop Hughes II, then his successor, Odon de Conteville, brother of William the Conqueror, the city was enriched with a new cathedral, dedicated in 1077.
The 17th century was marked by the development of religious institutions: construction of the seminary, the Hôtel-Dieu, etc. It was also the time when the first lace factories were set up. It was only at the beginning of the 18th century that the city underwent major changes, with the destruction of the ramparts and the castle, dismantled by order of Louis XVI from 1773, and the construction of private mansions reflecting the luxury of the time.
Bayeux was the first French city to be liberated following the D-Day landings on June 7, 1944. Spared by Allied bombardments, it suffered little damage. During the Battle of Normandy, Bayeux served as a base for the British army.
Today, the city preserves a medieval historical centre and architectural treasures linked to its history. In addition to its famous Romanesque and Gothic cathedral, Bayeux is characterised by half-timbered houses, mansions with towers, large residences and elegant private mansions.
Located in the heart of Old Bayeux, Notre-Dame Cathedral is a remarkably preserved Norman jewel of medieval architecture.
Bayeux Cathedral was consecrated in 1077 by Bishop Odon de Conteville in the presence of his brother, William the Conqueror. To decorate the nave of the cathedral, Odon had the famous Bayeux Tapestry embroidered, which tells the story of the conquest of England in 1066 by William, Duke of Normandy.
Begun in Romanesque times, Bayeux Cathedral is generally a Gothic church. As its construction extends from the 12th to the 15th century, we find the different styles of this art: early Gothic, radiant Gothic and flamboyant Gothic. It was during its construction redesigned and expanded. In reality, most of the construction was concentrated in the years 1230-1270. This is why it has a fairly large unity of style: a 13th century Gothic building enveloping the early Romanesque structure.