Angers is a city in the North-West of France, located in the beautiful Loire Valley. Angers is home to Angers Castle (Château d'Angers) and the magnificent Apocalypse Tapestry (Tapisserie de l'Apocalypse).
I visited the Château d'Angers in March 2019 with my boyfriend. If you are an EU citizen under 25 you can visit the castle and tapestry for free. A full price ticket is 9€ to see the castle and the amazing tapestry. My boyfriend and I had an hour and a half to explore the chateau. The castle was built in 1230 as fortress because of its location above the river Maine, but the location was occupied as early as 4000 B.C. Angers Castle was in the Anjou family; it was occupied by the Dukes of Anjou in the 14th and 15th centuries. More about the fascinating history of the castle can be found on their official website.
The château d'Angers has amazing gardens which sadly we didn’t have enough time to explore. One of the exhibitions in the castle was a cabinet of curiosities which is spread over two floors and shows various things the Anjou family has collected over the years. They were divided into categories such as seashells, precious stones, maps and globes and rare objects. But the most important and exciting exhibition was the Tapestry of the Apocalypse.
The Apocalypse Tapestry
The main exhibition, which you should not miss if you are visiting Angers Castle is the beautiful Apocalypse Tapestry. We had half an hour to look at it, which wasn’t enough time. I was disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t any information in the room. Even in my leaflet about the castle, I did not see anything about the tapestry. And I had so many questions. Thus, after my visit I went to the shop and bought The Apocalypse Tapestry of Angers book by Liliane Delwasse which explains the history of the tapestry as well as each scene depicted on this masterpiece. Having more than 80 scenes from the Apocalypse, the tapestry is the largest one in Europe.
Brief History of the Tapestry of the Apocalypse
The Apocalypse Tapestry was commissioned in 1373 by Louis I of Anjou. It is divided in 6 panels each describing a stage of the Apocalypse. It took many years before the Tapestry of the Apocalypse was displayed in Angers castle. The tapestry was first displayed at the wedding of Louis II of Anjou to Yolande of Aragon in 1400. When Louis XI of France conquered Anjou (the province of Angers) in 1474, King René, son of Louis II gifted the tapestry to Angers Cathedral out of fear that the new king might want to take it with him. The Apocalypse Tapestry began to lose its glory and appeal during the following centuries. So much so that during the French Revolution it was even put on sale. However, it remained unsold and abandoned. It was cut and used for various purposes of the everyday life and some pieces went missing until 1848 when Canon Joubert, the custodian of the Saint-Maurice Cathedral found it and decided to restore it. The Apocalypse Tapestry was then exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1867. Finally, in 1905 after the separation of church and state in France, the tapestry was sent back to the Château d’Angers but due to lack of space it could not be displayed. In 1952 it was decided that a gallery would be purpose-built to host the tapestry. In 1996 the Apocalypse Tapestry was put on display again this time at Angers Castle.
The first panel depicts scenes of Christ with members of the church and apostles who have been redeemed through prayer. Who do you think the victor riding the white horse in the scene below is? Some think it is Louis I of Anjou himself.
The second panel shows how the Apocalypse unfolds as seen from the sky. The panel depicts how humanity is being warned by different means that the Apocalypse is coming. One of the scenes shows a shipwreck and an angel announcing the Apocalypse with a trumpet.
The third panel is also called The Tale of the Witnesses and it depicts the arrival of the witnesses sent by Christ to preach his gospel. Saint Michael is depicted fighting a dragon with a spear ending with a cross symbol of the triumph of the church.
The fourth panel depicts a warning to those who have sinned and their type of punishment. The scene below illustrates the sinful city of Babylon and an angel which announces what is to come.
The fifth panel paints a bigger picture of the announcement of the trumpets from the first panel by showing the terrible plights in detail. In the scene below Saint John sees the Great Whore, a symbol of the vice of Babylon. The fall of Babylon is near.
The sixth and last panel is about the victory of the true faith and the destruction of the sinned. For example the scene below shows the New Celestial Jerusalem the new home of those who had been true to God.
The Apocalypse Tapestry is an impressive piece of medieval art with an interesting history and it is definitely something to see once in a lifetime. So, next time when you are visiting France consider the Château d'Angers as a destination, I am sure you won't regret it!
Photos Credit: T
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A girl from Bulgaria, travelling around Europe and sharing her travelling experiences! Currently living in Scotland.