Renowned throughout the world for its 11th-century Tapestry, which is included in UNESCO’s “Memory of the World” register, Bayeux boasts an exceptional architectural heritage, dating mainly from 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, first Duke of Normandy, it became after Rouen the most important city of Normandy. A castle was built in 960 by the 3rd Duke of Normandy, Richard I.
During the medieval period, five villages were created outside the walls, reflecting the development of the city at that time. At the instigation of Bishop Hugues II, then his successor, Odon de Conteville, brother of William the Conqueror, the city was enriched by a new cathedral, dedicated in 1077.
The 17th century is marked by the development of religious institutions: construction of the seminary, the Hôtel-Dieu, etc. It is also the time of the installation of the first lace factories. It is only at the beginning of the 18th century that the city undergoes profound changes with on the one hand the destruction of the ramparts and the castle, dismantled by order of Louis XVI from 1773, and on the other hand the construction of private mansions testifying to the luxury of the time.
Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated following the Landing on 7 June 1944. Spared by the 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 historic centre and architectural treasures linked to its history. In addition to its famous Romanesque and Gothic cathedral, Bayeux is characterised by half-timbered houses, tower mansions, grand residences and elegant mansions.