Many years ago I spent a few months in a place called Poitiers in the country its citizens refer to as “l’Hexagon” – or France to ordinary people. What Wilmslow Road in Manchester is to Curry Houses, Poitiers is to churches.
Poitiers is special in history for many reasons and it’s symbolic of many truths.
Perhaps you could say that la ville de Poitiers is the demarcation of a “clash of civilisations“, but I don’t think that’s what makes Poitiers truly remarkable.
I think it’s a church.
That edifice is called Baptistère Saint-Jean and it pre-dates any skirmishes between Christians and Muslims. It is an epic example of Merovingian (not to be confused with the allusion to some mystical dynasty in The Matrix Trilogy) architecture.
I visited quite a number of the religious sites whilst living in Poitiers and that one church felt as if was untouched and unfazed by the illusory progress of man.
Poitiers for me is a place where we can learn about how worlds collide and what really matters. If, in the beating heartbeat of time, we can exemplify a moment in stone and ride the shock waves of the future and show that art and feeling can overcome differences then surely there’s hope for the rest of us.