Bordeaux is located on the western coast of France and is a rather busy port city. It is the capital of the Aquitaine region in France, and is also the seventh largest metropolitan city in France.
According to the latest census, the population of Bordeaux is about 1,010,000. The famous and renowned Bordeaux wine is produced in this city. Some older parts of the city are even listed on the UNESCO world heritage list.
The history of Bordeaux begins in the Paleolithic ages. It has been estimated that the region of Bordeaux was inhabited by the Neanderthal man about 20,000 to 30,000 years ago. The remains of the Neanderthal man have been discovered in the caves in this region.
One of the caves, where some prominent remains were found, known as Pair-non-Pair, is located near a commune by the name Bourg sur Gironde, which lies to the northern side of Bordeaux.
During the BC era, in 300 BC, the region of Bordeaux was dominated by the settlements of the Celtic tribes. Bituriges Vivisci was one of the most prominent tribes in this region. Bordeaux was probably named after the river Bourde that lies to the south of this city.
The city was of great importance to the Roman economy as the trade of metal, especially lead and tin, flourished in this region. In the coming years, Bordeaux was made the capital of Roman Aquitania or the Gallia Aquitania, which was a Roman province in the southern parts of present day France.
The economical and political importance of the city increased during the rule of the Severan Imperial Dynasty in the 3rd century AD due to the presence of the land and sea trade routes.
In the year 276 AD, Bordeaux was plundered by the Vandals of Eastern Germany. In the coming years the city saw even more turmoil as the Vandals again raided the city in 409 AD, the Visigoths plundered it in 414 AD, and Franks plundered it in 498 AD.
Bordeaux came to be known as a major center of commerce in the southern regions of France. Sadly, it was again plundered in 732 AD, this time by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, the leader of Andalusia Muslims.
The commercial activity in the city greatly improved between the 12th and the 15th centuries. The wine production and trade in this region was recognized in Europe as well, eventually boosting the trade.
Towards Modern History
In 1462 AD, the Parliament of Bordeaux was founded. In the same decade, it also became a major trade center for sugar and slaves that arrived from Africa and the New World. In 1653, during the Fronde civil war in France, the city was annexed by Louis XIV, when his troops entered Bordeaux.
The city, however, flourished even more during the 18th century, and the architecture of the buildings was used for the modernization of Paris during the rule of Napoleon III.
He entrusted the task to Baron Haussmann, the then-Prefect of Bordeaux. During the Second World War, it was also the capital of the French government when the German invasion of Paris was anticipated.
The famed author, Victor Hugo, has aptly described Bordeaux by commenting, "Take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux". Indeed this historic city is worth a visit, even if it is just to taste its delightful French wine.