Château de Mayenne was originally a wooden castle on a steep rock built in the 8th century AD. It was rebuilt as a stone castle in 920, but burnt down in 1063 during the Breton wars against Wilhelm the Conqueror. The castle was enlarged in the 13th century. In the late Middle Ages Mayenne castle was no longer used as a a residence, but it was a garrison and magazine. English army occupied it twice during the Hundred Years' War (1361-1364 and 1425-1448). After Wars of Religion Château de Mayenne was in royal possession. Towers were demolished in 1665 and the castle was left to decay. In the 19th century it was acquired by the city of Mayenne and restored.
Château de Mayenne is today one the best-preserved early medieval secular buildings in Europe. From the castle, you will have a magnificent panoramic vista over the River Mayenne and the eastern districts of the town. The main courtyard has now been turned into a park. At the end of the 19th century it was endowed with a superb Italian-style theatre, a hub of cultural life in Mayenne. The castle houses a museum where visitors can take an interactive tour to discover these remarkable Carolingian remains and the castle’s history over the last 1,000 years.
A listed museum Mayenne castle’s museum houses the medieval section of Mayenne’s Departmental Archaeological Museum. It also displays outstanding collections of objects found in the course of excavations since 1996: coins, domestic artefacts, religious objects, military furnishings, funerary furnishings and game pieces.Visitors can view an extraordinary collection of game pieces and counters: a board complete with its 52 backgammon counters dating from the 10th to 12th centuries, and dice and chess pieces, all made of bone, stags’ antlers or ivory.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.