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Coat of arms of Laon
Laon (France)
region Hauts-de-France
Department Aisne
Arrondissement Laon
Canton Laon-1
Community association Pays de Laon
Coordinates 49 ° 34 ′  N , 3 ° 37 ′  E Coordinates: 49 ° 34 ′  N , 3 ° 37 ′  E
height 63-183 m
surface 42.00 km 2
Residents 24,876 (January 1, 2017)
Population density 592 inhabitants / km 2
Post Code 02020
INSEE code
Website Laon

Upper town of Laon with the cathedral

The French municipality of Laon ( lɑ̃ ) has 24,876 inhabitants (as of January 1, 2017). It is the main town (préfecture) of the Aisne department .

The historically significant city has many medieval structures, including the famous Laon Cathedral . With the historic fortified old town on a table mountain , Laon has the largest contiguous area under monument protection in France.


Laon is in the north of France; which is about 160 m to 175 m above sea level. d. M. and approx. 143 km (driving distance) northeast of Paris or approx. 55 km northwest of Reims located upper town on an almost 2 km long limestone cliff towers over the lower town by about 100 m.


City wall with Porte de Soissons
Porte d'Ardon city ​​gate

Laon was a Gallic fortress in the 5th century, called Laudunum or Lugdunum (from 581 Lugdunum Clavatum ). Around 500, Bishop Remigius of Reims founded a diocese in Laon. From then on, Laon was one of the most important cities of the Frankish Empire and often contested. There was already a county of Laon under the Merovingians . The city of Laon first belonged to the Kingdom of Soissons , then to Austrasia . In 682 it was conquered and plundered by Giselmar , Hausmeier of Neustria . Pippin the Younger took the city in 742, which now remained in the possession of the Carolingians . Charles the Bald gave the Laon Church rich gifts. An attack by the Normans in 882 failed.

In the 10th century Laon was the residence and one of the last possessions of the Carolingian kings. Although Odo of Paris had seized it in 892, Charles III conquered it . the simple- minded back in 897. In 920 Robert I was able to temporarily seize Laons. Heribert II of Vermandois took over the city in 929. But in 936 Ludwig IV the Overseas was crowned here. When he was taken prisoner by Hugo the Great , he had to cede Laon to the latter in 946, but in 949/50 he managed to regain his seat of residence. Duke Karl of Lower Lorraine took possession of Laon in 988, a year after Hugo Capet's accession to the throne , and was able to repel Hugo's troops, but in 991 Bishop Adalbero treacherously opened the city's gates so that it was captured by an army of the Capetian . This moved the capital to Paris .

During the rule of the Capetians, Laon came under the rule of its bishops, who had extensive powers. In the early 12th century, however, the French communities wanted to make themselves more independent. A popular uprising in Laon broke out in 1112 against Bishop Gaudry , because this was an urban charter approved in his absence by Louis VI. had canceled and wanted to collect the money promised to the king for it from the citizens. In the course of the insurrection, not only the bishop was killed, but also a large part of the city and its Romanesque cathedral went up in flames. The rebels then sought protection in the Coucy castle of Thomas de Marle . Louis VI. conquered the castle in 1113 and left the people who had fled there hanging, while peasants in the surrounding area plundered and further devastated Laon, incited by the supporters of the murdered bishop.

In 1128 Laon received a new urban constitution, which was removed three years later. The construction of the Gothic cathedral began in 1155 and was completed after 80 years. In 1174 the citizens rose up against their bishop again, were supported by King Ludwig VII. And received their charter back, but Philip II. August abolished their privileges again in 1188. These came into force again in 1239, before Philip VI. the commune definitely abolished in 1331.

During the Hundred Years' War Laon had to surrender to Johann Unefurcht in 1411 , three years later drove out the Burgundian garrison, but was recaptured in 1418. Philip the Good handed it over to the English. After the coronation and anointing of Charles VII , the French succeeded in regaining Laon in 1429. In the late 16th century, Laon joined the Holy League , and King Henry IV was n't able to take the city until 1594.

During the French Revolution in 1790, the Laon diocese was abolished. In the Battle of Laon on March 9 and 10, 1814, Napoleon's French troops were defeated by the Prussians under Blücher and forced to retreat. After the Battle of Waterloo , the defeated French army tried in vain to regroup in Laon in 1815; the city surrendered to Blücher after a 15-day siege. In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–1871, Laon had to surrender to the 6th Prussian Cavalry Division on September 9, 1870. When the German troops moved in, a French non-commissioned officer blew up the powder magazine of the citadel , wounding or killing 70 men of the 4th Prussian Jäger Battalion and 500 French mobile guards and wreaking havoc; for example, the cathedral and the old bishop's palace were damaged.

During the First World War , Laon was the seat of the German military command from 1914 to 1918, while the front line ran along the “ Chemin des Dames ”. During the Second World War , strong air force units were concentrated on the airfields around Laon.

Population development

year 1800 1851 1901 1954 1999 2012
Residents 6,691 10.091 15,434 21,931 26,265 25,317

The sustained population growth is primarily due to immigration from the rural areas in the surrounding area. Only in the last few years seems to have stagnated.


The area around Laon has been dominated by agriculture for centuries, although cattle breeding hardly plays a role these days. The city itself served as a market town as well as a craft and business center. Today the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Aisne department is located here ; smaller businesses have settled near the A 26 motorway .


Mountain station of the Poma 2000 funicular

Laon has had a train station on the La Plaine – Hirson line since 1857 . From 1899 to 1971, a cog railway connected the train station in the lower town with the old town. From 1989 to 2016 the Poma 2000 funicular operated largely on the same route .


Numerous buildings in the city are recognized as monuments historiques :

  • Notre Dame Cathedral: Laon Cathedral is one of the most important early Gothic cathedrals in France . The far-reaching influence of its architecture is not only evident in the English Gothic, but also in Limburg , Bamberg and Naumburg Cathedral .
  • former bishop's palace, now the justice palace, next to the cathedral
  • The old Hôtel-Dieu de Laon from the 12th century, the oldest surviving hospital in France. In addition to the basement for pilgrims and the poor, the 50 beds in the main room on the upper floor also cared for the sick (the Laon Chapter also included important doctors).
  • Templar chapel from the 12th century
  • Monastery Church of St. Martin: Church from the 12th century and monastery buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries
  • City fortifications : 7 km of preserved city walls with the city gates Porte d, Porte des Cheminzelles and Porte de Soissons
  • Racetrack (planned to open in 2015) on the former Laon-Couvron military airfield [outdated]


Twin cities

sons and daughters of the town


  • Michel Bur (ed.): Histoire de Laon et du Laonnois. Toulouse 1987 (= Pays et villes de Frances).

Web links

Commons : Laon  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Johann Jakob Egli : Nomina geographica. Language and factual explanation of 42,000 geographical names of all regions of the world. Friedrich Brandstetter, 2nd edition, Leipzig 1893, p. 525
  2. ^ Bernhard Schnell : Medicine in pictures and text. For the medical composite manuscript Ms. 413 of the Bibliothèque Municipale Laon. In: Würzburg medical history reports. Volume 6, 1988, pp. 67-88, here: pp. 82 f.
  3. Alain Saint-Denis: L'Hotel-Dieu de Laon 1150-1300. Nancy 1983
  4. Ernst Kern : Seeing - Thinking - Acting of a surgeon in the 20th century. ecomed, Landsberg am Lech 2000, ISBN 3-609-20149-5 , p. 250.