La Maison d'Adam (Adam's House) – Angers, France - Atlas Obscura
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Angers, France

La Maison d'Adam (Adam's House)

A medieval house adorned with enigmatic carvings, including one of a man displaying his masculine attributes. 

Situated in the Sainte Croix Square, at the chevet of the cathedral on one of the oldest merchant roads of the town, the Maison d’Adam (Adam’s House) is the most exceptional of the nearly 40 timber-framed houses still in place in Angers. Its imposing dimensions, complex structure, and enigmatic decor place it among the most remarkable works of carpentry of the Middle Ages in France.

Dating to 1491, the house owes its name to the figures of Adam and Eve that frame the Tree of Life on the wooden post at the angle of the ground floor. The richness of the sculpted decor is what has made this house so especially renowned. Ornamental patterns of a natural inspiration such as the knots of trees, or purely decorative on the theme of twists, cover the entirety of the wooden posts. The scenes with figures are particularly numerous, each post portraying a character or an animal.

The iconography, which has been at the root of many alchemical hypotheses, swings between the two great poles of medieval sensitivity. There are many religious subjects, such as the Virgin Mary, the angel of the Annunciation, the pelican giving its blood to its young (a symbol of the Resurrection), Saint Michel, or Saint George slaying the dragon. These alternate with a wide range of secular and even vulgar scenes and figures. These include the movingly serious couple of lovers, the flute or musette players, diverse variations on the theme of fantasy (centaurs, griffons, chimeras), not forgetting the famous “tricouillard,” or three-testicled man. It is necessary to imagine all of these decors adorned with bright colors, which disappeared forever after modifications to the building in 1814.

Know Before You Go

The carvings can be seen on the exterior of the building from the street. The ground floor of the interior is now a gallery shop selling handcrafted glassware, sculptures, and other artworks, open from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

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