The Saint-Maclou parish cemetery, which is located right next to the church, had once reached its capacity to entomb. As of the 14th century, it was referred to as 'le grand aître' because of its expanded size. The parish voted to construct three galleries in and around the cemetery in 1526. The buried people were exhumed and moved to these galleries in the attics, where they would be well-ventilated and out in the open for all to see so that more room could be made for new graves.
How to explore Aître Saint-Maclou?
- These galleries have wooden and stone pieces decorated in a macabre styled-decor. The stone columns that hold up the attic floor depict a danse macabre (dance of the dead). The west gallery displays a hierarchically arranged 'danse macabre' of commoners (Emperor, king, aristocracy, etc.). After extensive restoration, the danse macabre has become one of Europe's finest instances of sculpted dancing.
- Bishops, priests, and monks were positioned in the gallery to the east. Dead people and living people are paired in each column here.
- On the northwest and northeast pillars of the ossuary, the Christian conception of man's fall from grace in the Garden of Adam and Eden is depicted.
- Several columns in the north gallery feature pairs of sibyls, female oracles who foretold the birth of Jesus Christ.
- The approximately 500 square meters of Galerie des Arts du Feu presents an opportunity to see the transformation of raw materials via the use of fire. This gallery is first of its kind in France, and it showcases and demonstrates techniques for working with clay, glass, and metal.
- Take a break at Café Hamlet before exploring this Norman crown treasure. This café is conveniently located between the Priests' Courtyard and Passage Géricault. It is a one-of-a-kind location steeped in nearly 500 years of history. A few well-prepared items make up a lunch or supper menu that is as simple as it is stylish.
- The TELMAH Gallery, situated in the middle of the aître, presents a program that brings together established names in the art world with up-and-coming names in the field. The program alternates between solo shows and shows showcasing multiple collections.
- Try some Normandy-inspired pastries from Gill's. Explore the deserts they serve and learn about the many ways the apple may be enjoyed.
186 rue Martainville, 76000, Rouen France