Reims Cryptoportique


Useful Information

Location: 6 Pl. du Forum, 51100 Reims.
(49.256600, 4.033870)
Open: Mid-JUN to JUN Sat, Sun 14-18.
JUL to AUG daily 14-18.
SEP to mid-OCT Sat, Sun 14-18.
Les Samedis du Crypto: JUL to AUG Sat 15.
[2022]
Fee: free.
Les Samedis du Crypto: free.
[2022]
Classification: SubterraneaCryptoporticus
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided.
Les Samedis du Crypto: D=90 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Cryptoportique, 6 Pl. du Forum, 51100 Reims, Tel: +33-326-77-75-15.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1st and 2nd century built.
1830 rediscovered during the construction of a new market hall.
1930 begin of reconstruction.

Description

The Reims Cryptoportique was built probably between the 1st and 2nd century, when Reims was a Roman city named Durocortorum. In the 3rd century, however, it was completed. It surrounded the forum of the city on three sides, and was the foundation for various buildings. It had two parallel 60 m long passages with a connecting 100 m long passage, the fourth side was open. It was of great importance and the foundation of an important temple. That's a result of the importance of the city located at the crossing of to major Roman roads in the middle of Europe. On the outside were rows of shops, and the tunnel itself was also used, probably for storage, or a shady place during summer. This is rather untypical for a cryptoporticus, which was normally closed.

But during the Middle Ages many stones were removed to build other buildings, a sort of early recycling, which actually destroyed all the buildings on top and much of the underground passages. Today only one of short side passages, the right angle corner and a short piece of the long passage are restored. They were also covered by younger buildings, but when the city built a new market hall in 1830, the pit for the foundations revealed the remains which can be visited today. Instead of destroying them and building a new market hall, they fortunately decided to leave the cryptoporticus untouched. But it took another century until 1930, until it was actually restored. There was a lot of destruction during World War I and the city was rebuilt in many parts, and the renovation of the cryptoporticus was one of the projects. The rest of the tunnels is mostly gone, but some pieces of the passage are probably still used as the cellars of surrounding buildings. The archaeologists hope to discover more pieces of the tunnel when a cellar is renovated and strange barrel vaults discovered.

Today there is an open air theater for cultural events with ramp with seats, and the cryptoporticus forms a sort of theater building behind the stage. The wall to the inside has windows with barrel vaults. Its unclear how much of this is fantasy and how much archaeological truth, the whole area was filled with rocks and garbage It seems the semi-underground vault was used during Roman times for various purposes. And the excavations also revealed a series of shops which used the cryptoporticus as their back wall. The cryptoporticus is open for free visits during the summer, if it is used for an exhibition the visit of the exhibition is often also free. It is also possible to make a guided tour named Les Samedis du Crypto (Saturday of the Crypto) which takes place on Saturdays, hence the name