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Perpignan (French: Perpignan; Catalan Perpinyà ) is a commune and the capital of the Pyrénées-Orientales department in southern Francemarker. Perpignan was the capital of the former province and county of Roussillon (Rosselló in Catalan) and continental capital of the Kingdom of Mallorca back in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Population (2006): 117,500 (Perpignanais, Perpinyanés) in the city proper. The metropolitan area has a total population of 300,000 in 2009.

History

Though settlement in the area goes back to Roman times, the medieval town of Perpignan seems to have been founded around the beginning of the 10th century (first mentioned in a document as villa Perpiniarum in 927). Soon Perpignan became the capital of the counts of Roussillon. In 1172 Count Girard II bequeathed his lands to the Counts of Barcelona. Perpignan acquired the institutions of a partly self-governing commune in 1197. French feudal rights over Roussillon were given up by Louis IX in the Treaty of Corbeil .



When James I, the Conqueror, king of Aragonmarker and count of Barcelona, erected the Kingdom of Majorca in 1276, Perpignan became the capital of the mainland territories of the new state. The succeeding decades are considered the golden age in the history of the city. It prospered as a centre of cloth manufacture, leather work, goldsmiths' work, and other luxury crafts. King Philip III of France died there in 1285, as he was returning from his unsuccessful crusade against the Aragonese Crown.

In 1344 Peter IV of Aragon annexed the Kingdom of Majorca and Perpignan once more became part of the County of Barcelona. A few years later it lost approximatively half of its population owing to the Black Death. It was attacked and occupied by Louis XI of France in 1463; a violent uprising against French rule in 1473 was harshly put down after a long siege, but in 1493 Charles VIII of France, wishing to conciliate Castile in order to free himself to invade Italymarker, restored it to Ferdinand II of Aragon.

Again besieged and captured by the French during the Thirty Years' War in September 1642, Perpignan was formally ceded by Spainmarker 17 years later in the Treaty of the Pyrenees, and began then to form part of the Kingdom of France.

Main sights

The cathedral of St. John the Baptistmarker was begun in 1324 and finished in 1509.

The 13th century Palace of the Kings of Majorcamarker sits on the high citadel, surrounded by ramparts, reinforced for Louis XI and Charles V, which were updated in the 17th century by Louis XIV's military engineer Vauban.

The walls surrounding the town, which had been designed by Vauban, were razed in 1904 to accommodate urban development.

Economy

Traditional commerce was in wine and olive oil, corks (the cork oak Quercus suber grows in Perpignan's mild climate), wool and leather, and iron. In May 1907 it was a seat of agitation by southern producers for government enforcement of wine quality following a collapse in prices. JOB rolling papers are currently manufactured in Perpignan.

Climate

Sport

Perpignan is a rugby stronghold: their rugby union side, USA Perpignan, is a regular competitor in the Heineken Cup and current champion of the Top 14, while their rugby league side plays in the engage Super League under the name Catalans Dragons.

Culture

Since 2004, every year in the last weekend of August in the Palace of the Kings of Majorcamarker the free 3 day Guitares au Palais takes place. The festival has a broad main stream focus with pop related music as well as traditional acoustic guitar music and alternative music with international guests like Caetano Veloso (2007), Rumberos Catalans, Pedro Soler, Bernardo Sandoval, Peter Finger, Aaron and Bryce Dessner (2008).

Perpignan has a close connection with the sculptor Aristide Maillol, who attended school there.

Following a visit in 1963, the Catalanmarker (Spain) surrealist artist Salvador Dal√≠ declared the city's railway station the centre of the Universe, saying that he always got his best ideas sitting in the waiting room. He followed that up some years later by declaring that the Iberian Peninsula rotated precisely at Perpignan station 132 million years ago - an event the artist invoked in his 1983 painting Topological Abduction of Europe - Homage to Rene Thom. Above the station is a monument in Dali's honour, and across the surface of one of the main platforms is painted, in big letters, ¬ęperpignan centre du monde¬Ľ (French for "perpignan centre of the world").
Perpignan street name sign in French and Catalan.
In 2008, Perpignan becomes Capital of Catalan Culture.

In Perpignan many street name signs are in both French and Catalan.

Notable people born in Perpignan

  • Louise Lab√© (1524 - 1566), a female Lyon poet of the Renaissance which at the siege of Perpignan, or in a tournament there, is said to have dressed in male clothing and fought on horseback in the ranks of the Dauphin, afterwards Henry II
  • Hyacinthe Rigaud (1659-1743), who painted the definitive portraits of Louis XIV
  • Fran√ßois Arago (1786-1853), the physicist, astronomer and liberal politician, who secured the abolition of slavery in the French colonies in 1853, was born in the nearby village of Estagelmarker (Estagell) and is memorialized in the eponymous Place Arago that bears his statue in the centre of the town.
  • Robert Brasillach (1909-1945), fascist author and journalist, executed for advocating collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II.
  • Fr√©d√©rick Bousquet (born 1981), French freestyle and butterfly swimmer who competed at three consecutive Summer Olympics (2000, 2004, and 2008)
  • Sandrine Erdely-Sayo (born 1968) pianist - Youngest recipient of the French Minister of Culture Prize at 13 years old. She lives in Philadelphia where she became National Interest for the United States


Plane crash

On 27 November 2008 an Air New Zealand Airbus A320 leased to XL Airways Germany with seven people on board crashed into the sea east of Perpignan during a test flight.

Partnerships

Sister cities:



Partner towns:

Perpignan train station


See also



References

  • INSEE commune file
  • Al√≠cia Marcet, Histoire de Perpignan, la fidel√≠ssima (1995)


External links




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