The name of Caesarodonum ("the hill of Caesar") is first mentioned in the Ist century AD: this new settlement was to become the chief town of the Romanized Gauls called the "Turones".
A few remains from this period can be seen near the cathedral : Part of the wall of the Lower Empire castrum near what is now the "rue du Petit Cupidon".The Lower Empire town gate onto the Loire. Below the royal chateau, remains of the baths of a private dwelling. A Gallo-Roman tower, part of the original fortifications(courtyard of the Musée des Beaux Arts).
Foundation and influence of another town centre: "chateauneuf de saint martin"
St Martin, Bishop of Tours, was widely venerated before his death in 397 and his relics then attracted such a cult that a new centre grew up around the chapel built over his tomb.
The church that was later built there became one of the focal points for Western Christianity.Crowds of pilgrims converged on this great Christian sanctuary and brought the city renown and prosperity.
Effectively the capital of the kingdom of france
In the 14th century, the unified town (City + Chateauneuf) entered a new phase of expansion. From the mid-l5th to the mid-16th century, Tours became first a place of refuge for the monarchy in peril and then the seat of its power. Charles VII, Louis XI, Charles VIII, Louis XII and François I were always delighted to come back to Tours where their chief Ministers and advisers lived. The silk industry flourished (800 masters and 6000 journeymen). It was Louis Xl who set up the first group of silk manufacturers here.The cloth used to be sold on the Place FOIRE LE ROI at the two great annual fairs held in May and September, each lasting 2 weeks.
The cradle of the first french renaissance
Signs of this remarkable artistic development can still be seen in Tours today: masterpieces such as the tomb of Charles VIII's sons, the top sections of the cathedral towers, the remains of the St Martin cloister, the GOUIN and BABOU de la BOURDAISIERE mansions.
The classical age and the 18th-century renewal: the new urban setting
The famous royal steward, François Pierre DU CLUZEL introduced the greatest innovation when he laid the new central road: it was North-South, perpendicular to the Loire whereas the old axis was parallel to the river.
This road, which is 6km long, involved cutting into the hillside at Saint Symphorien, building a new bridge (also known as Pont de Pierre and nowadays Pont Wilson), laying the rue Royale (rue Nationale today) and joining up with the Grammont embankment and the road out of Tours to the south across the Cher Valley.
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