Museum of Antiquities, RouenMuseum of Antiquities, Rouen
©Museum of Antiquities, Rouen

The Gallo-Roman period

Welcome to Rotomagus, the ancient city of Rouen! It is to the Romans that we owe the foundation of the city on the right bank of the river, during the first century. Fountain, street layout… Small overview of the Gallo-Roman vestiges of Rouen.

The remains of the Romans

In the 3rd century, the city had an amphitheater which was located at the level of the present Donjon, vast baths and a temple of which a few statues and columns were found.

You have to go place de la Pucelle to observe one of the last visible traces of this period: a monumental fountain that has crossed the ages. Its good state of preservation and the quality of the decoration of its columns justified its reassembly (in the reception hall of the Enedis building). It was part of a vast 9000 m² complex overlooking the Seine and located along a lane. It is thought to be the residence of a shipowner.

The layout of Rouen’s streets also reveals the mark of the Romans. The streets of Carmes, aux Juifs or even that of the Gros-Horloge date from this period.

It is the massive Christianization of the Roman Empire that marks the end of the Roman period. From 392, the only authorized religion was Christianity. In Rouen, this was the time of the episcopate of Saint Victrice, who initiated the construction of the first cathedral.

On the road to Rome

A few kilometers from Rotomagus is Uggade, the present-day commune of Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf, which was a Gallo-Roman city of which traces remain. At the time, a stopover city of the Roman Empire, it linked Lutetia (Paris) to Rotomagus (Rouen). Many warriors then stopped in the city where many burials were found in the necropolis discovered rue Etienne Dolet. Begun in the 19th century, campaigns of excavations follow one another and bring each time new elements on this Roman presence. The Knowledge Factory, in Elbeuf, offers a particularly well-documented archaeological section.

A little tour to the Musée des Antiquités in Rouen will, moreover, allow you to discover the regional art and archaeology collections, from the Bronze Age to the Renaissance, as well as collections concerning ancient Greece and Egypt. The Gallo-Roman collections concern daily life, housing, and funerary rites. One can see mosaics, such as those from Lillebonne or Brotonne, which illustrate the richness of the decorations that adorned the most luxurious local homes. A fascinating journey through time with free access!