Thermes de Cluny

Paris, France

The Thermes de Cluny are the ruins of Gallo-Roman thermal baths lying in the heart of Paris" 5th arrondissement. The present bath ruins constitute about one-third of a massive bath complex that is believed to have been constructed around the beginning of the 3rd century. The best preserved room is the frigidarium, with intact architectural elements such as Gallo-Roman vaults, ribs and consoles, and fragments of original decorative wall painting and mosaics.

It is believed that the bath complex was built by the influential guild of boatmen of 3rd-century Roman Paris or Lutetia, as evidenced by the fact that the consoles on which the barrel ribs rest are carved in the shape of ships" prows. Like all Roman Baths, these baths were freely open to the public, and were meant to be, at least partially, a means of romanizing the ancient Gauls. As the baths lay across the Seine river on the left bank and were unprotected by defensive fortifications, they were easy prey to roving barbarian groups who apparently destroyed the bath complex sometime at the end of the 3rd century.

The bath complex is now partly an archeological site, and partly incorporated into the Musée national du Moyen Age, and as such is the occasional repository for historic stonework or masonry found from time to time in Paris. The spectacular frigidarium is entirely incorporated within the museum and houses the Pilier des Nautes. Although somewhat obscured by renovations and reuse over the past two thousand years, several other rooms from the bath complex are also incorporated into the museum, notably the gymnasium which now forms part of gallery 9 (Gallery of French Kings and sculptures from Notre Dame). The caldarium (hot water room) and the tepidarium (warm water room) are both still present as ruins outside the Musée itself and on the museum"s grounds.

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Eketorp Fort

Eketorp is an Iron Age fort in southeastern Öland, which was extensively reconstructed and enlarged in the Middle Ages. Throughout the ages the fortification has served a variety of somewhat differing uses: from defensive ringfort, to medieval safe haven and thence a cavalry garrison. In the 20th century it was further reconstructed to become a heavily visited tourist site and a location for re-enactment of medieval battles. Eketorp is the only one of the 19 known prehistoric fortifications on Öland that has been completely excavated, yielding a total of over 24,000 individual artifacts. The entirety of southern Öland has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The Eketorp fortification is often referred to as Eketorp Castle.

The indigenous peoples of the Iron Age constructed the original fortification about 400 AD, a period known to have engendered contact between Öland natives with Romans and other Europeans. The ringfort in that era is thought to have been a gathering place for religious ceremonies and also a place of refuge for the local agricultural community when an outside enemy appeared. The circular design was believed to be chosen because the terrain is so level that attack from any side was equally likely. The original diameter of this circular stone fortification was about 57 metres. In the next century the stone was moved outward to construct a new circular structure of about 80 metres in diameter. At this juncture there were known to be about fifty individual cells or small structures within the fort as a whole. Some of these cells were in the center of the fortified ring, and some were actually built into the wall itself.

In the late 600s AD the ringfort was mysteriously abandoned, and it remained unused until the early 11th century. This 11th century work generally built upon the earlier fort, except that stone interior cells were replaced with timber structures, and a second outer defensive wall was erected.

Presently the fort is used as a tourist site for visitors to Öland to experience a medieval fortification for this region. A museum within the castle walls displays a few of the large number of artefacts retrieved by the National Heritage Board during the major decade long excavation ending in 1974. Inside the fort visitors are greeted by actors in medieval costumes who assume the roles of period artisans and merchants who might have lived there nine centuries earlier. There are also re-enactment scenes of skirmishes and other dramatic events of daily life from the Middle Ages.

Eketorp lies a few kilometers west of Route 136. There is an ample unpaved parking area situated approximately two kilometers west of the paved Öland perimeter highway. There is also a gift shop on site. During peak summer visitation, there are guided tours available. Visitors are assessed an admission charge.