The abbey of Saint-Andre-le-Bas was founded in the 8th century by Duke Ansemund. The church was originally a chapel of the palace of kings of Burgundy built in the end of the 9th century. The abbey flourished in the High Middle Ages.
The troubles of the Hundred Years' War and the competition of the new religious orders reduced the power of the convent and it was unable to recover from the Wars of religion. The monastery was dissolved in the late 18th century. The abbey church, built in the 11th century, became a parish church and the convent buildings were sold and partly dismembered. The church, the bell tower and the cloister are still remarkable for their harmonious Romanesque sculpted ornementation.
Situated in the basement of Metropol Parasol, Antiquarium is a modern, well-presented archaeological museum with sections of ruins visible through glass partitions, and underfoot along walkways.
These Roman and Moorish remains, dating from the first century BC to the 12th century AD, were discovered when the area was being excavated to build a car park in 2003. It was decided to incorporate them into the new Metropol Parasol development, with huge mushroom-shaped shades covering a market, restaurants and concert space.
There are 11 areas of remains: seven houses with mosaic floors, columns and wells; fish salting vats; and various streets. The best is Casa de la Columna (5th century AD), a large house with pillared patio featuring marble pedestals, surrounded by a wonderful mosaic floor – look out for the laurel wreath (used by emperors to symbolise military victory and glory) and diadem (similar meaning, used by athletes), both popular designs in the latter part of the Roman Empire. You can make out where the triclinium (dining room) was, and its smaller, second patio, the Patio de Oceano.
The symbol of the Antiquarium, the kissing birds, can be seen at the centre of a large mosaic which has been reconstructed on the wall of the museum. The other major mosaic is of Medusa, the god with hair of snakes, laid out on the floor. Look out for the elaborate drinking vessel at the corners of the mosaic floor of Casa de Baco (Bacchus’ house, god of wine).