Top Historic Sights in Arras, France

Explore the historic highlights of Arras

Arras Town Hall

The Gothic town hall of Arras and its belfry were constructed between 1463 and 1554 and had to be rebuilt in a slightly less grandiose style after World War I. The belfry is 75 meters high and used to serve as a watchtower. Nowadays tourists can enjoy ascending the belfry. The belfry of the town hall is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site of The Belfries of Belgium and France (the group of 56 historical buildings).
Founded: 1463-1554 | Location: Arras, France

Arras Citadel

Built by Vauban between 1667 and 1672, the purpose of Citadel of Arras was to protect the city from the attacks (Spanish troops coming from the Netherlands). It has been nicknamed La belle inutile (the beautiful useless one) by residents as it has never been directly involved in heavy fighting and didn"t keep the Germans form occupying the city in either Word War. Since 7 July 2008 it is part of the UNESCO World Heri ...
Founded: 1667-1672 | Location: Arras, France

Abbey of St. Vaast

The Abbey of St. Vaast was founded in 667. Saint Vedast, or Vaast (c. 453–540) was the first bishop of Arras and later also bishop of Cambrai, and was buried in the old cathedral at Arras. In 667 Saint Auburt, seventh bishop of Arras, began to build an abbey for Benedictine monks on the site of a little chapel which Saint Vedast had erected in honour of Saint Peter. Vedast's relics were transferred to the new abbey, whi ...
Founded: 667 AD | Location: Arras, France

Arras Cathedral

The original cathedral of Arras, constructed between 1030 and 1396, was one of the most beautiful Gothic structures in northern France, until it was destroyed in the French Revolution. The cathedral was the resting place of Louis de Bourbon, Légitimé de France, illegitimate son of Louis XIV and Louise de La Vallière. In 1833 the church of the former St. Vaast"s Abbey was rebuilt in classical sty ...
Founded: 1833 | Location: Arras, France

Faubourg d'Amiens Cemetery

The French handed over Arras to Commonwealth forces in the spring of 1916 during the World War I and the system of tunnels upon which the town is built were used and developed in preparation for the major offensive planned for April 1917. The Commonwealth section of the Faubourg d"Amiens Cemetery was begun in March 1916, behind the French military cemetery established earlier. It continued to be used by field ambulan ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Arras, France

Wellington Quarry

20 metres below the pavements of Arras is the Wellington Quarry, a site immersed in memory and emotion. In November 1916, the British started preparing for the 1917 spring offensive. Their stroke of genius: to have the New Zealand tunnellers connect up the town’s chalk extraction tunnels to create a real network of underground barracks large enough to accommodate up to 24,000 soldiers. After a 20-metre descent in a glas ...
Founded: 1916 | Location: Arras, France

Nemetacum

Arras was founded on the hill of Baudimont by the Celtic tribe of the Atrebates, who named it Nemetacum or Nemetocena in reference to a nemeton (sacred grove) that probably existed there. It was later renamed Atrebatum by the Romans, under whom it became an important garrison town. The archaeological site Nemetacum in Arras is one of the rare sanctuaries devoted to the oriental god Attis in France.
Founded: 15 BC | Location: Arras, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Olite

The Palace of the Kings of Navarre of Olite was one of the seats of the Court of the Kingdom of Navarre, since the reign of Charles III 'the Noble' until its conquest by Castile (1512). The fortification is both castle and palace, although it was built more like a courtier building to fulfill a military function.

On an ancient Roman fortification was built during the reign of Sancho VII of Navarre (13th century) and extended by his successors Theobald I and Theobald II, which the latter was is installed in the palace in 1269 and there he signed the consent letter for the wedding of Blanche of Artois with his brother Henry I of Navarre, who in turn, Henry I since 1271 used the palace as a temporary residence. This ancient area is known as the Old Palace.

Then the palace was housing the Navarrese court from the 14th until 16th centuries, Since the annexation (integration) of the kingdom of Navarre for the Crown of Castile in 1512 began the decline of the castle and therefore its practically neglect and deterioration. At that time it was an official residence for the Viceroys of Navarre.

In 1813 Navarrese guerrilla fighter Espoz y Mina during the Napoleonic French Invasion burned the palace with the aim to French could not make forts in it, which almost brought in ruin. It is since 1937 when architects José and Javier Yarnoz Larrosa began the rehabilitation (except the non-damaged church) for the castle palace, giving it back its original appearance and see today. The restoration work was completed in 1967 and was paid by the Foral Government of Navarre.