The island of Reichenau on Lake Constance preserves the traces of the Benedictine monastery, founded in 724, which exercised remarkable spiritual, intellectual and artistic influence. The churches of St Mary and Marcus, St Peter and St Paul, and St George, mainly built between the 9th and 11th centuries, provide a panorama of early medieval monastic architecture in central Europe. Their wall paintings bear witness to impressive artistic activity.
The Monastery of Reichenau was a highly significant artistic centre of great significance to the history of art in Europe in the 10th and 11th centuries, as is superbly illustrated by its monumental wall paintings and its illuminations. The churches retain remarkable elements of several stages of construction and thus offer outstanding examples of monastic architecture in Central Europe from the 9th to the 11th centuries.
For over 1,000 years the history of the island of Reichenau, which lies in the northern reaches of Lake Constance, was closely intertwined with that of the monastery. The first Abbot, Pirmin, was given the task of building a monastery in honour of the Virgin Mary and Saints Peter and Paul. He oversaw the building of the first abbey, a wooden building, at Mittelzell on the northern shore of the island, as well as a three-winged cloister against the north side of the church. The whole building was gradually rebuilt in stone by 746. The monastery received generous endowments of land, and the island, an integral part of the abbey lands, was given over to agriculture. The monastery became a famous centre for teaching and creativity in literature, science, and the arts. The church was consecrated in 1048, in the presence of Emperor Henry III.At the western end of the island of Reichenau, Egino, a former Bishop of Verona, built the first church of St Peter at Niederzell, consecrated in 799. The church was twice rebuilt and slightly altered in the 9th-10th centuries. The monastery buildings lay to the north, near the lake. In the late 11th and early 12th centuries the church was rebuilt and its two east towers were completed in the 15th century. Now dedicated to St Peter and St Paul, it became a parish church and was decorated in Rococo style in the 18th century. Abbot Heito III built the church of St George at Oberzell in the eastern part of the island in honour of the relic of the saint's head, which he brought back from a voyage to Rome in 896, the year of the church's consecration.
The former abbey of St Mary at Mittelzell features three aisles and opposed transepts. It retains its rectangular west tower, flanked by narrow porches and the broad west transept dating from the mid-11th century. Beneath this high tower lies the apse, in front of which stands the altar. The 12th-century nave with its wooden roof opens out into the east transept whose crossing is defined by four identical broad arches and the liturgical choir of the church dedicated in 816, the oldest parts of the church. The Flamboyant Gothic choir is flanked by a sacristy and treasury. The monastery built in the 17th century on the southern side of the church now houses the town hall and the presbytery.
The church of St Peter and St Paul at Niederzell is a Romanesque structure of three aisles culminating at the eastern end in three hemispherical apses concealed within a central block and flanked by two impressive bell towers. The central apse retains fine wall paintings from 1104-34 laid out in three rows. A figure of Christ in Majesty in a mandorla is surrounded by symbols of the Evangelists, the patron saints of the church, and cherubim. Above stands a row of Apostles and another of the Prophets. Other fragments of 12th-century wall paintings survive, particularly in the north chapel where they represent the Passion Cycle.In the church of St George at Oberzell a two-storey porch and a western apse dating from the early Romanesque period lead into the Carolingian church consisting of three aisles and a west choir of complex structure topped by a tower. The walls of the nave are decorated with remarkable early medieval wall paintings depicting the miracles of Christ. Each of the scenes is framed by decorative bands while painted busts feature between the arches of the arcade and figures of the Apostles between the windows. The chapel of St Michael on the first floor of the porch is also decorated with wall paintings depicting the Last Supper.References:
The Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls was part of the federal sanctuary of the three Gauls dedicated to the cult of Rome and Augustus celebrated by the 60 Gallic tribes when they gathered at Lugdunum (Lyon). The amphitheatre was built at the foot of the La Croix-Rousse hill at what was then the confluence of the Rhône and Saône.
Excavations have revealed a basement of three elliptical walls linked by cross-walls and a channel surrounding the oval central arena. The arena was slightly sloped, with the building"s south part supported by a now-vanished vault. The arena"s dimensions are 67,6m by 42m. This phase of the amphitheatre housed games which accompanied the imperial cult, with its low capacity (1,800 seats) being enough for delegations from the 60 Gallic tribes.
The amphitheatre was expanded at the start of the 2nd century. Two galleries were added around the old amphitheatre, raising its width from 25 metres to 105 metres and its capacity to about 20,000 seats. In so doing it made it a building open to the whole population of Lugdunum and its environs.