Tours (tōr) [key], city (1990 pop. 133,403), capital of Indre-et-Loire dept., W central France, in Touraine, on the Loire River. It is a wine market and a tourist center, with metallurgical, chemical, electrical, clothing, and printing industries. An old Gallo-Roman town, it grew rapidly after the death (397) of its bishop, Saint Martin, whose remains are buried in the Basilica of St. Martin (built 1887–1924). The city was a center of medieval Christian learning, notably under Gregory of Tours and Alcuin. It was there that Charles Martel halted (732) the Moorish conquest of Europe. The city became an archdiocese in 853. The history of Tours is essentially that of Touraine, of which it was the capital. It was favored by many kings, including Louis XI, who held his States General there and who died in the nearby château of Plessis-lès-Tours. The city has produced great painters, sculptors, goldsmiths, and tapestry weavers. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–71), Tours was the headquarters of the government of national defense. In World War II it was briefly (June, 1940) the seat of the French government. Points of interest include Gallo-Roman ruins and the splendid Gothic Cathedral of St. Gatien (13th–16th cent.).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.