Excavations on a three-hectare site south of the Loupian village have revealed remains of a Roman farm villa with extensive 2nd-century Gallo-Roman mosaics. The site was occupied for more than 600 years.
Originally a modest farmstead built a few kilometres south of the Via Domitia, on the hillside overlooking the Bassin de Thau, it rapidly prospered and grew. During the early Empire, in the 1st and 2nd centuries, the villa was a large patrician residence with thermal springs. The main agricultural activity was viticulture, for which a storehouse capable of holding 1,500 hl of wine was constructed. This period also saw the building of a small port on the northern shore of the Bassin de Thau, as well as pottery workshops producing amphorae for the transportation of wine.
In the 5th century, the villa was completely rebuilt and the owner's home turned into a small mansion. The thirteen ground floor rooms are covered in multicoloured, highly decorated mosaics. The potteries by now were producing not just amphorae but also household pottery.
The springs from the original house were decorated with 2nd-century mosaics. However, those in the later villa are unique inasmuch as there is no other villa in which the influences of two such geographically separated countries, Aquitaine and Syria, have come together. This oddity is perhaps explained by the eclectic taste of the owner, or possibly simply from a desire to have the work completed quickly. In theory, a team of four mosaic workers would take a whole year to cover a 500 m2 floor. At Loupian, two teams working together could have laid the original 450 m2 in between six and eighteen months.
A 1000 m2 building protects the remains of the villa and its mosaics. Guided tours of the site and its museum are available, in French, every day in summer and on Wednesdays and weekends outside the season (closed in January). Tours in English are available at certain times.References:
The Old Town Hall of Wrocław is one of the main landmarks of the city. The Old Town Hall's long history reflects developments that have taken place in the city since its initial construction. The town hall serves the city of Wroclaw and is used for civic and cultural events such as concerts held in its Great Hall. In addition, it houses a museum and a basement restaurant.
The town hall was developed over a period of about 250 years, from the end of 13th century to the middle of 16th century. The structure and floor plan changed over this extended period in response to the changing needs of the city. The exact date of the initial construction is not known. However, between 1299 and 1301 a single-storey structure with cellars and a tower called the consistory was built. The oldest parts of the current building, the Burghers’ Hall and the lower floors of the tower, may date to this time. In these early days the primary purpose of the building was trade rather than civic administration activities.
Between 1328 and 1333 an upper storey was added to include the Council room and the Aldermen’s room. Expansion continued during the 14th century with the addition of extra rooms, most notably the Court room. The building became a key location for the city’s commercial and administrative functions.
The 15th and 16th centuries were times of prosperity for Wroclaw as was reflected in the rapid development of the building during that period. The construction program gathered momentum, particularly from 1470 to 1510, when several rooms were added. The Burghers’ Hall was re-vaulted to take on its current shape, and the upper story began to take shape with the development of the Great Hall and the addition of the Treasury and Little Treasury.
Further innovations during the 16th century included the addition of the city’s Coat of arms (1536), and the rebuilding of the upper part of the tower (1558–59). This was the final stage of the main building program. By 1560, the major features of today’s Stray Rates were established.
The second half of the 17th century was a period of decline for the city, and this decline was reflected in the Stray Rates. Perhaps by way of compensation, efforts were made to enrich the interior decorations of the hall. In 1741, Wroclaw became a part of Prussia, and the power of the City diminished. Much of the Stray Rates was allocated to administering justice.
During the 19th century there were two major changes. The courts moved to a separate building, and the Rates became the site of the city council and supporting functions. There was also a major program of renovation because the building had been neglected and was covered with creeping vines. The town hall now has several en-Gothic features including some sculptural decoration from this period.
In the early years of the 20th century improvements continued with various repair work and the addition of the Little Bear statue in 1902. During the 1930s, the official role of the Rates was reduced and it was converted into a museum. By the end of World War II Town Hall suffered minor damage, such as aerial bomb pierced the roof (but not exploded) and some sculptural elements were lost. Restoration work began in the 1950s following a period of research, and this conservation effort continued throughout the 20th century. It included refurbishment of the clock on the east facade.