For lovers of history
With its historic centre listed as a "Secteur Sauvegardé" (urban-conservation area), Senlis retains the vestiges of its rich and varied history dating back to the 1st century A.D. with the Roman town of Augustomagus ("Market of Augustus").
Like in Beauvais, the ramparts built at the end of the 3rd century still surround the historic heart of town. The Middle Ages represented the golden age of Senlis. Attached to the "royal domain", Senlis saw the construction of numerous religious and secular edifices, including: the Gothic cathedral dating back to the second half of the 12th century, churches, convents and monasteries (Saint-Maurice Priory, Saint-Frambourg Church and Saint-Vincent Abbey), the royal castle, the bishop's palace… A truly impressive body of monuments having somehow survived the ravages of time and the vagaries of history.
Senlis has miraculously escaped the region's innumerable wars and conflicts relatively unscathed, and today presents visitors with a charming labyrinth of narrow cobblestoned streets. Curious tourists can stroll about town to admire a vast panorama of civil architecture stretching from the 15th to the 19th centuries, including many beautiful townhouses.
Did you know ?
It was in Senlis that Hugh Capet, founder of France's longest royal dynasty, was elected in 987 before being crowned king in Noyon the same year.
Notre-Dame de Senlis Cathedral is the third largest cathedral of the Oise department. Though more modest in size than the cathedrals of Noyon and Beauvais, it nevertheless boasts a western portal adorned with an exceptionally rich sculptural ensemble dating from around 1160-1170, with the oldest representation of the "Coronation of the Virgin Mary" theme. In 2006, a portion of this portal's polychromy was restored.
Beneath the Museum of Art and Archaeology, ancient sculptures and other antiquities discovered at different sites around Oise are presented among the uncovered vestiges of Gallo-Roman dwellings, as well as a portion of the defensive wall built during the 3rd century.
Ex-votos discovered on the ancient Gallo-Roman temple of the Halatte Forest constitute one of the treasures of these archaeological exhibition rooms.
Upstairs, the museum pays tribute to the Senlis painter Thomas Couture (1815-1879), as well as Séraphine Louis (1864-1942), a modest servant who painted works of a rare intensity favouring flower motifs.