Cailhau Gate, Bordeaux
Bordeaux is a fascinating city. It has an enchanting history and an amazing past. Therefore, it is not surprising that many of its corners keep secrets that will leave you in love from the very first moment. A good example of this is the Cailhau Gate.
Take a seat. In the following lines we are going to tell you about this tourist attraction and why you have to include it in your itinerary when you come to enjoy our free walking tour of Bordeaux.
What is the Cailhau Gate?
As we have already said, Bordeaux is a city with a rich past and many of its elements can still be found in the city. In the past, like most European towns, it was also walled. The Cailhau Gate was one of the entrances. It also served as a place of defence against possible foreign attacks and invasions.
Although it is surrounded by other buildings that are not so old, it is notable for its tower. This construction is reminiscent of fairy-tale castles.
Inside you can take a tour of the Bordeaux history. You will find different weapons and tools that were used during different periods, as well as some old documents.
History of the Cailhau Gate
As we have already told you, it was an entrance gate and also a defensive gate. It was built around 1494 and is 35 metres high. It is also a real beauty.
At the time, it was also considered to be the great triumphal arch, after the conquest of King Charles VIII in Fornovo, Italy. In fact, there is a niche with its sphinx as a tribute to such a great achievement.
Just behind the Porte de Cailhau, was the Palais de l’Ombrière. This was the official residence of the Dukes of Aquitaine and was later occupied by the kings of England, until well into the 15th century. Finally, this palace was the seat of the Bordeaux Parliament, one of the places most visited by Montaigne in the 16th century and Montesquieu in the 18th century.
At 35 metres high, also known as the Palace Gate, it has a medieval style thanks to the sculpted details in the decoration. In addition, some details of the so-called Gothic-Renaissance transition can be seen, such as the arches over the bay windows or the conical roof. The same is true of the canopies that rest over the niches.
A striking detail in the construction is the theatrical scene: it includes two angels with a shield made up of three fleurs-de-lis. It is located in the centre of a capital that is also decorated with the same flowers, right on the façade of the side facing the docks.
It was by no means the only defensive gate in the city, but it was one of the most important. Today it offers one of the best views of the old town of Bordeaux.
From here you can see the beautiful Pont de Pierre, the oldest bridge in Bordeaux. And if you look closely, you will also find some traces of the old city walls. It’s a stretch barely two metres thick and 10 metres high, but it will give you an idea of what things were like here in the past.
This was also the name of the Bordeaux bourgeois family, the Cailhau, who lived around the site.
Opening and prices of the Cailhau Gate
The Porte Cailhau is open seven days a week from 10 am to 1 pm and in the afternoon from 2 pm to 6 pm. It is closed to the public only on 25 December and 1 January. The last visit can be up to 30 minutes before closing time.
The entrance fee is 5 euros per person. Accompanied children under 12 years of age can enter free of charge.
However, we recommend that you visit the official website of Bordeaux Tourism & Conventions to check the conditions and get your ticket.
How to get to the Cailhau Gate?
Getting to the Porte Cailhau in Bordeaux is quite easy. As we have already mentioned, it is in the heart of the old town, in the Place du Palais, near the quayside. It’s easy to get there in just a few minutes on foot.
Discovering the Porte Cailhau on a free Tour
Of course, as in any new city, getting to know the most attractive places and curiosities of Bordeaux with the help of tour guides is always the ideal option. Besides the fact that the locals will show you the most attractive secrets, you have the possibility to ask for a tour in your own language.
Nowadays you have the possibility to hire tours for free, which makes it much more convenient. Of course, it is also more budget-friendly.