Ancien Evêché (Former Bishop's Palace)
Before building the Saint-Maire castle, the bishops of Lausanne lived in a palace perched on the edge of the city hill, overlooking the lower town and closing off the end of the Cathedral esplanade. The various parts of this complex were constructed between the 11th and 15th centuries, and then rebuilt several times from the 18th century onwards.
The south-west area of the complex is part of the original structure. A late 14th century tower, known as “Tour Jacquemard”, is backed by a wing dating from the same period. The tower was part of the city’s defences. Its soaring silhouette stands out thanks to its high talus base and its top floor featuring curved machicolations similar to those on the Castle of Chillon.
Adding extra breadth to the complex is a brick annex topped by battlements decorated in a similar style to those of the Saint-Maire Castle, which was constructed during the same period (early 15th century). A number of ruins can still be seen inside.
The Former Bishop’s Place now houses the Lausanne History Museum, where the “Plan Buttet” is held – an impressive (140 cm x 208 cm) oblique aerial view of Lausanne dating back to 1638 that meticulously describes the public and private buildings of the time as well as the surrounding countryside, vines, orchards and fields. This document led to the creation of a huge scale model of the city in the 17th century, giving a three-dimensional view of the town plan of the time.
The museum also holds a number of temporary exhibitions each year.