Monday morning we had nothing planned, and after some rainy weather, it looked like it was going to clear up. Jacket on, camera ready… time to explore Riez.
Riez has been inhabited for a very long time. During the 1st centurey BC, the roman emperor gave Riez the status of “Roman law colony”.Even earlier, a fortified village and “high place of worship” existed atop the Hill of Sainte Maxime. Corinthian columns from this are now part of the structure of the chapel there, where there is a modern convent.
In a flat spot near the river, four majestic columns stand tall, remnants of a temple to Apollo. I set my camera on one of the large stones which circle the columns, set the timer, and raced down the muddy slope…. here you can see just how tall they are.
But, back to my walk…….lets get this in order.
I started out by entering the old village through the grand Porte or Gate Ayguière which dates back to the 14th century. Notice the sundial. The streets are narrow and the houses tall… many dating from the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. One sees grand coats of arms and other gypsum decorations around the doors and windows. There are several buildings which are listed as historic and are being restored…from the photos of the insides in some of the brochures they will be truly amazing when opened. This hotel was RENOVATED in 1510.
I followed the street, reading the small pamphlet I got at the tourist information centre (thankfully, in English). and when I reached the other gate, I turned right and climbed up along the old wall and to the clock tower. The cage over the bell is something you see all over Provence. They have a strong cold wind called a mistral which can happen any time of the year. If the bell tower is enclosed it can be blown apart, the wind is so strong, hence the ironwork cage.
Going down and out the gate, I stopped next at the church. Early in Christian times, Riez became the seat of a Bishop. The modern church just dates back to the 19th century, but it was very beautifulThis shot is taken from over by the columns, and shows both the church steeple and the clock tower, with Sainte Maxime’s hill in the background.
On I went, past the site of a convent dating back to the 13th century, of which only this gothic arch window still survives…… it was destroyed during the religious was of 1574. That kind of old has quite an impact on a Canadian from the Prairies, where nothing is nearly that old. I visited the Roman colums, already mentioned, and then went through the mud to the Baptistry, an early Christian edifice dating to the 5th century AD. Inside, there are numerous columns and monuments…. it wasn’t open so I couldn’t see the altar dedicated to the Goddess Cybele. And across the road is the archeological site of the first century cathedral in Riez, which was built over the ancient therms or hot springs.
Wow – that’s a lot of history. And Monday we also visited a local quilter…. but that’s for another post.