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Tourist Places To Visit In Dijon
Dijon is a city situated in the eastern part of France, which was once the capital of the Duchy of Burgundy and is now the headquarters of the Cote d’Or department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region. Located on the road to Paris from Lyon, Dijon has often been referred to as the little sister to Paris. The city was a region of exceptional wealth and power during the Middle Ages when the Dukes of Burgundy ruled between the 11th and 15th-century. Today, it primarily holds significance in areas of aesthetic locales, epicurean cultures and historically rich heritage. Discover Dijon’s antiquity through its iconic landmarks and architectural masterpieces, and experience up close in true European style what it’s like to be a guest in this gracious city. Here is a list of some of the best places to visit in Dijon.
The Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy and the Museum of Fine Arts
The Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy, built in the mid-15th-century, was once the seat of power of the Ducal kings. Today, it serves as the city’s town hall and administrative functions are carried out in this building. The architecture is typically French, with traditional baroque patterns adorning the inner and outer walls. The palace was first renovated sometime in between the 17th and 18th-century and the second time around in 2010.
The palace also houses the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon (The Museum of Fine Arts of Dijon), which opened in 1787, making it one of the oldest museums of France. There is a wide array of displays and collections in the museum ranging from the personal effects of the Dukes of Burgundy, statues, sculptures and various historical artefacts that take us through Dijon’s history and evolution. One can also admire the collection of Egyptian mummies and antiquities. Apart from the historical exhibits, there is also a collection of modern arts including works by Monet, Boudin and Rouault.
Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne (Museum of Burgundian Life)
Musée de la Vie Bourguignonne (Museum of Burgundian Life) is not your regular, run-of-the-mill museum. At first glance, it looks the part of what the building was essentially made for – a convent known as the Cloitre des Bernadines. Tourists often describe it as a quirky building that has been structured to look like a part of the old town, with street planning, shops, pharmacies and other tradecraft houses between the 1700s and the 1900s. The antiquities here range from various immaculate mechanical contraptions that helped people in their daily lives. The museum consists of three floors and also includes considerable background on the history of the famous Dijon mustard.
The Magnin Museum is a private collection of around 2000 artworks collected and curated by the Parisian magistrate Maurice Magnin and his sister Jeanne Magnin between the late 1800s and early 1900s. Both collectors were art lovers and curated the collection with a vision and purpose in mind. Maurice bequeathed the museum to the state in 1938, a year after his sister’s death. The museum is housed in a 17th-century 'hotel particulier' known as Hotel Lantin in the historic city centre. On display are paintings that stand tall in the arts community, ranging from the early 16th-century to as late as the 19th-century. Most of the collection focuses on French paintings by famous artists, but there are also artworks by lesser-known artists from Italy and France.
Church of Notre-Dame
The Church of Notre-Dame is a 13th-century Roman Catholic Church that was built between 1230 and 1250, making it one of the oldest churches of Christianity. The Church of Notre-Dame houses the Black Madonna and is an exemplary example of fine craftsmanship from the Christian architecture; the most recognised of them being the 51 outer gargoyles on the western wall, the Jacquemart (14th-century mechanical clock) atop the tower of the church, and the remaining original stained-glass windows adorning the high ceilings.
The main attraction of the Church of Notre-Dame is the statue of the dark Virgin Mary at the altar; there are fascinating stories that surround the miracles of the Black Madonna. An owl sculpture on the outside of the church is a popular motif in the city and has had centuries worth of visitors rub it with their left hand as a good luck charm.
Jardin Botanique de l’Arquebuse
Dijon’s Botanical Garden is spread over 2 hectares and is itself situated in the middle of a 5-hectare park. The garden was originally the grounds for Arquebusers’ (the cavaliers of Arquebus) training in the 16th-century that was eventually turned into an English-style botanical garden by the final captain of the cavaliers. The garden today houses 4000 plant species, most of which are native to the Burgundy region.
Jardin Botanique de l'Arquebuse also houses an arboretum with over 100,000 specimens of local and international flora, a playground for children and an extensive collection of ducks, geese and swans. The Jardin des Sciences de Dijon is the garden’s natural history museum that features interactive and educational exhibits on zoology, geology, entomology and mineralogy. There is also a planetarium here that will appeal to all astronomy lovers.
Dijon’s gothic-style cathedral was completed in the 15th-century but has its origins dating to the late 13th and early 14th-century. The oldest part of the cathedral is the ‘Rotonde’ – a crypt that was part of the original abbey and was built to shelter the tomb of Saint-Benignus. Listed as a national monument, the twin-towered church is a place of spiritual worship for the residents of Dijon and has daily mass. Also well-known are the church’s organ concerts that are performed throughout the year by renowned musicians. An archaeological museum within the church contains various Gallo-Roman artefacts, Romanesque sculptures and other medieval antiquities.
Constructed during the transition between the gothic and Renaissance eras in the 16th-century, this splendid church features structural designs and elements reminiscent of both architectural styles. The church was founded in 1497 and was constructed over the span of two centuries, which resulted in this unique blend of styles. The carving of angels on the sculpted doorway near the South Portal depicts typical gothic designs, whereas the angels carved on the Central Portal fall into the Renaissance era style.
Hotel de Vogue
This 17th-century mansion is renowned for its distinct Renaissance-style architecture and has been classified as a historical monument. Its beautifully proportioned courtyard features three arches with ornate carvings on it and is a wonderful example of the architectural brilliance of this time. The mansion was richly decorated during the time of its construction and features designs reminiscent of the Italian influence during the Renaissance period. Visitors are free to roam through the courtyard and the garden front and even tour the interiors of the mansion.