The Big Bell of Bordeaux, is a landmark located in the heart of the city of Bordeaux, in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. This bell also called Saint-Eloi gate is one of the main gates of the city in the Middle Ages. Its history is fascinating and several interesting facts surround it. It was classified as a historical monument in 1886. Want to learn more about the city of Bordeaux and its secrets? Don’t wait any longer and book your tickets for our VisioTour.
The Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux also called “Armande-Louise” is a massive bell that weighs about 7,800 kilograms and has a diameter of 2.10 meters. It was for many centuries the bell that announced the joys and sorrows of the people of Bordeaux. It also gave the signal for the harvest and warned the population in case of fire. Today, the gate has lost four of its six towers and opens towards the Saint-Eloi district of Bordeaux. The tower is one of the few remaining medieval gates in the city and is an important landmark in Bordeaux. The bell is no longer active today, it only rings to announce major holidays such as January 1, May 1, May 8, July 14, August 28, November 11 and every first Sunday of the month.
The Big Bell of Bordeaux has a rich history that dates back to the 13th century. At that time, the door does not have a bell and is called the door Saint-Eloi. Integrated into the latter in the 14th century, the door has undergone many changes over time and is now in the coat of arms of the city.
In the 16th century, when the population of Bordeaux revolted against the gabelle (tax), the king sanctioned the city by removing the big bell. Ten years later, King Henry II gave his authorization to put the big bell back in its place.
In the 18th century, the bell was replaced by a new one, which is the bell we see today. Indeed, the old one would have cracked while alerting the inhabitants of a fire in March 1774. During the French Revolution, the bell was used to call citizens to arms and to sound the alarm in case of danger.
There are several interesting facts about the Big Bell of Bordeaux that make it a unique and fascinating object. Let’s take the example of the details present inside it. We can find engraved inside the bell the coat of arms of France and the city of Bordeaux. Also present are the coats of arms of the Marshal of Richelieu (then governor of Guyana) and the Duchess of Aiguillon.
Another interesting fact about the bell is that it has inscriptions in Latin that explain the usefulness of “Armande Louise”, “convoco arma, signo dies, noto horas, compello nubila, concino laeta, ploro rogos”. Translated, these inscriptions mean: “I call to arms, I announce the days, I give the hours, I chase the storm, I sound the festivals, I shout at the fire, I cry for the dead”.
If you intend to visit the Grosse Cloche of Bordeaux, there are several ways to get there. The bell is located in the Saint-Pierre district of Bordeaux and is easily accessible by foot, bicycle or public transportation. You will find it at the following address Porte Saint Éloi – 53 Rue Saint James – 33000 Bordeaux. The tower is open to visitors all year round.
During your visit to the Grosse Cloche de Bordeaux, you will learn about the history of the bell and its importance to the city. You will also have the opportunity to climb the stairs to the top of the tower and see the bell up close. At the top of the tower, you will have a breathtaking view of the city, as well as many monuments such as the Pont de Pierre or the Basilica of Saint Michael. Don’t forget to visit the tower’s jail where the prisoners of the time were locked up. Keep your eyes open, you will see traces left by the occupants.
The Grosse Cloche of Bordeaux is an amazing place with a rich history and many interesting facts surrounding it. If you are planning to visit Bordeaux, be sure to include a visit to the Grosse Cloche in your itinerary. If you don’t know where to start, don’t hesitate to let our VisioTour bus take you to the most important places in Bordeaux. Book your tickets now on our website!
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