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1. The first stone of the Récollets convent

1. The first stone of the Récollets convent

The town of Pontivy still retains today in its toponymy the memory of a monastery: the “Île des Récollets”, the former convent garden, is an example. The Récollets settled in Pontivy in 1632, in a monastery occupied since 1458 by the Cordeliers. In 1664, they launched the reconstruction of their convent. The first stone of the work was preserved, despite the total destruction of the monastery – probably in 1806. Some wooden statues from the old Récollets church are still visible today in the Notre-Dame-de-Joie parish church.

2. Watercourses in Pontivy before the 19th century

The Blavet was once an essential economic axis in Pontivy: an essential source of water for the inhabitants, it allowed the installation of activities on its banks such as fisheries, tanneries and mills. But the Blavet was also a source of dangers: drownings and floods were frequent. The city community began to worry about it in the second half of the 18the century by launching some works (cleaning the river, building quays, repairing roads near the watercourse, etc.) which unfortunately never made it possible to definitively resolve the problem.

3. The suburb of Outreleau

Like ovens and presses, wheat mills were, under the Ancien Régime, a commercial monopoly of the lord: all the inhabitants of his fiefdom had to bring their grain there to be milled. The miller is therefore an essential character in the city. He is also the only inhabitant who, with a few tanners, lives comfortably on the right bank of the Blavet. The rest of the population is
more than modest condition. Due to its location, this district is named “Tréleau” or “Outreleau”. The presence of Blavet generated the installation of mills and tanneries which made it the working district of Pontivy.

4. The Carhaix gate

Pontivy was, probably from the 12the century, surrounded by ramparts, themselves interrupted by gates. Probably rebuilt between 1714 and 1717 and today integrated into the hospital buildings, the Carhaix gate constitutes, with the castle ramparts and a few scattered sections of fortifications, the only vestige of this ancient urban enclosure. From the 13the century, the extension of the commune beyond its walls caused the creation of “false towns”. The ramparts, already damaged by the sieges that the city suffered in 1342, 1488 and 1589, were deliberately destroyed from the 17the century in order to integrate the suburbs into the city.

5. The hospital

Like any hotel-god under the Ancien Régime, the Pontivy hospital once had to accommodate old people, the poor, the sick but also passing travelers, pregnant women and abandoned children. The current buildings are a juxtaposition of constructions from various periods. Only the exterior walls of the chapel and the Carhaix gate date back to before the 19th century.e century. Long run by the Hospitaller Sisters of Saint Thomas de Villeneuve, a congregation founded in Lamballe in 1661, the Pontivy hospital benefited, until the Revolution, from substantial financial aid from the lords of Rohan.

6. The house of the seneschal of Viscount de Rohan

Dated 1577, this house is exactly contemporary with the Hôtel de Roscoët located on Place du Martray (see panel 12). The two houses have a characteristic Renaissance decor which, as with the majority of Pontivyian cut stone dwellings, is mainly concentrated around the bays (doors and windows). As on the facade of the Hôtel de Roscoët, the coat of arms located above the entrance door has been burned: it undoubtedly originally bore the owner's arms. The house underwent a remarkable restoration from 2000 to 2006.

7. The Saint-Ivy or congregation chapel

At the end of the 18e century, the congregation of craftsmen of Pontivy decided to rebuild the chapel dedicated to Saint Ivy that it had used until then. The date 1770 can still be read on the facade. This has unfortunately partly lost its decoration: statues in the round formerly arranged in the niches, various wood-cut ornaments... The small turret attached to the left of the chapel contains the spiral staircase allowing access to the upper floors, notably on the two levels of stands and the square bell tower which crowns the facade.

8. The parish church or basilica of Notre-Dame-de-Joie

Rebuilt at the beginning of the 16th centurye century on the site of an older church, Notre-Dame-de-Joie was significantly transformed at the end of the 18e century, notably thanks to the generosity of the Dukes of Rohan, as well as at the end of the 19e century in order to respond to the increase in the population of the faithful. It nevertheless retains original parts, notably the entrance tower – except for the spire – whose western facade bears the date 1533.

9. Place Anne de Bretagne

From 1665 to 1914, Place Anne de Bretagne was occupied in its center by the wheat market, and you can still see the well then used by merchants. Until 1804, the cemetery was attached to the Notre-Dame-de-Joie church. It was then moved outside the walls in order to improve hygienic conditions in the heart of the city. The house at number 14 has preserved a beautiful sculpted decoration from the 16the century: grimacing faces, interlacing from the Greco-Roman repertoire, bas-relief decoration and assertive horizontality are in fact characteristic of the decoration of Renaissance half-timbered houses.

10. Place du Martray

In Pontivy, Place du Martray was for a long time the central point of the city. Like most Breton squares bearing this name, it was located near the market halls and houses with porches and welcomed some of the traders on fair or market days. From 15e century in the 18the century, the Pontivyens gathered there to celebrate the end of Lent. The game of quintain required any married man in the last twelve months to come and break three spears against a post decorated with the arms of the Rohan – the quintain –, and this, installed in a cart pulled at high speed, under the laughter and applause of many spectators.

11. The house of three pillars

Most of the Breton porch houses remaining today are preserved in Ille-et-Vilaine and Côtes-d'Armor. The so-called house of the three pillars of Pontivy is among the 3 examples preserved in Morbihan with the Maison Limbour in Guémené-sur-Scorff and the Maison Maurice in Josselin. Its Renaissance decor allows it to be dated to the second half of the 16the century. Built to protect goods from bad weather, the houses with porches could, when adjoining, constitute real covered streets, as we can still see today in Dinan, Vitré and La Guerche-de-Bretagne.

12. The Roscoët hotel

Built in 1578 for Jean de Roscoët and his wife, this mansion presents a rich sculpted decoration typical of the French Renaissance in the 16e century. Today we can still see the traces of two coats of arms, probably burned during the Revolution. On the other hand, the inscription which surmounts the entrance door and allows the certain dating of the building has been preserved. The name "watchtower" long given to the hotel due to the presence of the corner turret is incorrect: a watchtower is a small overhanging structure, containing only a single room used for lookout, and found mainly in military architecture.

13. Rue du Fil

Rue du Fil, like Place aux Fils (current Place Ruinet du Tailly) and Rue de la Cendre (used for bleaching fabrics), evokes the industry and the canvas trade which marked the Pontivy economy at the time. Rohan era. The street still has beautiful examples of half-timbered houses. Many of them are mixed constructions: stone on the ground floor, half-timbered upstairs. The pieces of wood to prevent deformation of the facade are often in the shape of a Saint Andrew's cross, thus creating a certain uniformity in the city.

14. Halles-theater

Planned since the First Empire, these halls were completed in 1848, on land adjoining the old seigniorial halls destroyed in 1842. The function of the building conditioned the architectural style, the arcades allowing a large opening to the outside. The theater, located upstairs, was inaugurated in 1849.

15. Malpaudrie

Rebuilt or heavily restored in 1725, this house was originally a leper colony. After having lived for a time on good terms with the rest of the medieval population, the lepers became real pariahs: considered as civilly dead, accused of witchcraft, obliged to announce their arrival with a rattle, they were at kept away from towns as much as possible. The location of the building, on the very edge of the communes of Noyal and Pontivy at 18e century, caused some problems for its owners, taxed twice... The question was decided in 1798 and the house was definitively considered to be located in the territory of Pontivy.

16. Pontivy Castle

Mostly built between 1485 and the beginning of the 16e century, the Château de Pontivy, formerly owned by the Rohans, is characteristic of Breton military architecture from the end of the 15the century. The irregular quadrilateral plan confined by round towers is of the Philippian type (of the King of France Philippe-Auguste, who initiated the construction of the Louvre fortress in Paris at the end of the 12e century). But only two towers – those of the main facade – remain here. The third (northeast) and fourth (southeast) towers were destroyed in two distinct periods of history. Until the archaeological excavations of 2018, the presence of this fourth tower was the subject of questions.

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