Today we switched our focus and got to take a look at Metz from a medieval and roman angle. The day started off with our meeting point at the Republique stop, where we began our guided walking tour of the city with the return of Vivienne as our tour guide. We explored the remnants of the citadel of Metz, where pieces from the Gallo-roman history of the city could still be found. Our tour guide explained that renovators are not trying to trick you. It is important for them to let it be obvious what part of the building are original and which have had work done on them.
We continued toward the Templars’ Chapel where we learned about the history of the Templars, who were deeply rooted in the Lorraine region around the 12th century before their dissolution in 1312. Now, the chapel features great examples of medieval paintings on its walls and acts as the host for cultural events in Metz, like a gallery exhibition in the summer.
Our tour then took us to St. Maximin church where the main feature was the stained glass windows by Jean Cocteau. Jean Cocteau was principally known for his cinematic work but the stained glass in the church gave us a view of his artistic work as well. The glass was not so much focused on religious symbolism as it referenced mostly Cocteau’s films and life instead of biblical references. Although, the meaning of the stained glass is up to your interpretation since our tour guide explained that the author left no explanation for his work.
Moving on we walked to the Porte des Allemands. The gates to the city located in the street of the Germans, hence its name. A true medieval gate, it was meant to protect the city of Metz from invaders and had all the features of a medieval fort, including a portcullis and the ever present spiraling staircases.
After, we got to bring it all together with a guided visit to the Musee de La Cour d’ Or. The museum, as explained by our guide, was more than 3km long. The permanent exhibition started with roman artifacts and architectural features that were found in the region. The guide explained to us how the findings allowed us to understand more about the beliefs and customs of the people that inhabited the city in the roman times. Of particular remark were the skeletons that were still kept and the Gallo-Roman funerary stelae of Jupiter slaying a monster.
The museum continued the history of Metz through the years, going into the medieval age and displaying the flags of different regions painted on a wooden roof, including the old flags for France, Luxembourg and Lorraine. The end of the permanent exhibition featured paintings from the 17th century to the 20th century, which really helped to see the evolution of the culture in the city of Metz throughout the years. Once the tour was over, we also had the chance to look at famous portraits featured in the temporary exhibition that the museum had from the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.