War and famine were not the only atrocities that hit France hard in the middle ages, there was also the Black Plague that decimated the population of Rouen, killing off ¾ of the population in the 14th century. As expected, the overwhelmed cemetery next to the parish of Saint-Maclou church in the heart of the city, quickly became too small for the number of dead and dying and a new cemetery was created. This cemetery was called the Aitre Saint-Maclou and is one of the last buildings of its type still in existence in Europe.
Now, the Aitre Saint Maclou is once again open and welcomed its first visitors after unprecedented renovation works were terminated. Visitors can come and explore this emblematic site in Rouen’s heritage. It is the second most visited monument in the city after the Cathedral and they will not remain insensitive to the beauty of its facades, its macabre decorations in carved wood and its frames and joinery.
In 2016 an initial renovation project began with archaeological excavations and studies of the bones discovered in the courtyard that was later confirmed by scientists to be that of the victims of the great plague. Shortly thereafter the Aitre Saint-Maclou was then closed to the public for major renovations and a new vocation to make it a place of cultural activities alongside artists’ and craftsmen’s workshops and a café, at a cost of more than 13 million euros.
In the north and east wings, the Fire Arts Gallery, dedicated to working with earth, glass and metal, will offer an experience of nearly 500 m² in the universe of the transformation of matter by fire.
In the north wing, the Telmah gallery will be dedicated to contemporary art and the Café, Hamlet, with its sumptuous glass roof in the priests’ courtyard, will offer visitors a moment of pause and restoration.
Finally, throughout the year, the Aitre Saint-Maclou will host many events: shows, concerts, night visits, etc.
All the programming is to be found on their website : https://www.aitresaintmaclou.fr/en/