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Les Baux-de-Provence: a medieval village in the Alpilles

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The medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence is located in the heart of the Alpilles, a group of rocky hills 245 meters high, located in the center of Provence, just 15 km from Arles and 25 km from Avignon. This medieval village is located on a rocky outcrop in the Alpilles in a panoramic position between the cities of Avignon and Arles.

The history of Les Baux-de-Provence began around 6,000 BC, when some prehistoric huts were located on the site of the village, later, around 2,000 BC, the place was used by the Celts as a hill fort. In the Middle Ages, starting in the 10th century, the village and castle of Les Baux-de-Provence became the seat of an important feudal house, the lords of Baux, who died out in the 15th century. With the extinction of the Les Baux family it was annexed to Provence and then was incorporated, together with the rest of Provence in the kingdom of France. In 1633, during the wars with the Huguenots, the castle and the fortifications of the inhabited center were partly demolished at the behest of the King of France.

The ancient village is dominated by the medieval castle (Château des Baux) built in the 11th century by the lords of Baux and destroyed following the wars of religion by the king of France in the 17th century. The castle represents one of the oldest feudal settlements in the region. Reconstructions of medieval siege engines are exhibited in the esplanade of the Castle.

The medieval village located below the castle is a succession of ancient stone houses, some of which have been reduced to ruins. Among the most valuable buildings in the village we find: the Hôtel de Manville from the end of the 16th century which houses the Town Hall. Another particular building is the one called, from the inscription on the facade, Fenêtre Post Tenebras Lux, a building from 1571 which recites a typical motto of the Protestants of the time “after the darkness, the light”. In the lower part of the medieval village is the small temple of the Pavillon d’Amour de la Reine Jeanne from the end of the 16th century. The village of Les Baux-de-Provence is entirely pedestrian and can only be visited on foot.

In the village there are some interesting museums such as the one (Musée des Santons) dedicated to the figurines of Provençal nativity scenes, the Santons, with a collection of figurines ranging from the 17th century to the present day. In the elegant 16th-century Hôtel des Porcelets is the museum dedicated to Yves-Brayer, a French painter of figurative realism, in the nearby 17th-century Chapel des Pénitents Blancs there is a cycle of frescoes by the artist.

The aluminum ore, Bauxite got its name from the village of Les Baux de Provence, in 1821 the mineral was discovered near Les Baux by the geologist Pierre Berthier.

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