The creation of the rampart
During IIIe century, during the period of the Lower Empire, Avaricum changed its name once again to become Biturigae. As the capital of the first province of Aquitaine and keen to protect itself from barbarian invasions coming from the East, she undertook the construction of a protective rampart all around the city.
Built from massive blocks at its base, sometimes salvaged from ancient monuments, as well as rubble and bricks on the height, this wall can reach an impressive thickness of 3 meters.
The enclosure is punctuated with 46 defensive towers, with a diameter of more than 10 meters. Stretching over 2,5 km in total, the rampart encompasses an area of approximately 25 hectares and has four main doors: the Porte de Lyon, Gordonia Gate, New door and Auron Gate.
The name of the Place Gordaine finds its origin in the Gordonia Gate, which led to Sancerre, which was called Gordonia in Latin. Moreover, a fountain already existed on this square in Roman times.
Where was the rampart located?
The rampart was located all around the city; we can also see vestiges of it near Saint-Etienne Cathedral and along the Promenade des remparts, among others.
If you look at the city map, you can clearly see the shape of the old wall.
The evolution of the rampart through the ages
In the Middle Ages, more precisely in the XNUMXthe century, under the reign of King Philippe Auguste, the rampart underwent a complete transformation. In fact, the city grew and the rampart lost its defensive function. Some parts disappear while others serve as a basis for the construction of monuments, a technique known as “spolia”.
Notable buildings erected from the rampart include Our Lady of Sales, Cathedral, theHotel Lallemant, theAldermen's Hotel, and the Ducal Palace, which today houses the Departmental Council. You can still see the rubble stones, the bricks, as well as two towers integrated into the building of the Jacques Coeur Palace. This transformation also explains the curved shape of the Palace, which follows the location of the rampart.
In addition, openings have been created, particularly along the Promenade des Remparts, to facilitate circulation from the upper town to the lower town. These passages, also called “daredevil passages”, today bear the names of George Sand Passage and Mirebeau Staircase.