Perpignan's Short History
"All of a sudden everything appeared clear like lightened by a flash: in front of me there was the center of the universe". This declaration was made by Salvador Dali when he visited Perpignan train station in September 1963. He later celebrated it in the painting called "Perpignan Railway Station".
Perpignan is the departmental capital of "Pyrenees Orientales" the most southern of the French departments.
Perpignan exists since Roman times. At the time it was called Ruscino – hence the name Rousillon of the region - and was one of the big cities on the "Via Domitia", the antique highway that was linking Iberian Peninsula to Rome.
During the first millennium Perpignan is the capital of the Counts of Rousillon.
The golden era of Perpignan is the period between 1276 and 1344 when the city is the continental capital of the Kingdom of Majorca.
This is the time when many of its outstanding monuments: the Kings’ Palace, Saint Jean Baptise Cathedral, the City Hall etc. are built.
At the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659, Rousillon region is attached to the Kingdom of France, and Perpignan becomes a border city and has its military defensive role reinforced.
Perpignan is by excellence an artistic town.
Arguably the most famous artists who visited or lived in Perpignan are Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali, the later having dedicated two of his major works to the city: "The Perpignan Railway Station" mentioned above and the "Fantastic Voyage".