Angers

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Angers

The chief city of the Anjou district. (pop: 50,000.) Inhabited originally by Gauls, it became a Roman city about 2,000 years ago. During the Middle Ages it was ruled by dukes, and later on at various times annexed by the king of France, sometimes because of confiscation, sometimes inheritance (when the dukes became Kings of France).

The English and French fought savagely for possession of Angers, and the town was passed back and forth between them during the Hundred Years War. Only when Charles, brother of the French king, became the Duke of Anjou, did the city's fortunes rise. Charles of Anjou added the whole of Sicily and the Kingdom of Naples to his domains, even entertaining ambitions of conquering the Holy Land.

The stirrings of Protestantism in France affected Anjou (as it did nearby Tours), as mobs of Huguenots sacked churches and cathedrals and destroyed works of religious art. But peace came in due time, and today the town is a major wine and agricultural center, where wine-tasting ceremonies and fairs are conducted annually. The famous Anjou rose wine is exported to many countries, and has always been popular in the U.S.

In 1940, it became the seat of the Polish government in exile. Unfortunately, in 1944 , a large part of the old city was destroyed by bombing.

Angers has one of the most beautiful feudal fortresses in France, built in 1228-38, it is flanked by 17 stout round towers 120 to 240 feet high, and surrounded by a deep moat cut into the rock.

The cathedral of Angers is called Saint-Maurice, built during the 12th and 13th centuries — beautiful portal. There are three towers, the two outside ones are the original spires built in the 12th century (height 220 feet); the one in the middle was added in 1540. Beautiful stained glass windows from the 13th century.

Behind the cathedral on Palace Sainte-Croix, is the maison d'Adam, which is worth a look, built of wood and brick during the 15th century.

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