Sunday, 4 September 2011

Gothic Cathedral of Sainte Cecile in Albi, France

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During the 4th century,  the last recorded structure before the Cathedral of Sainte Cecile was located upon the foundation. Albi was a Romanesque cathedral in stone which burned down in 666AD.   In 920 AD, a building by the name of Saint Celicila, patroness of musicians, found its home upon the foundations of Albi.

 

Work began on the Cathedral of Sainte Cecile in 1282 in the town of Albi, which gave its name to the heretic sect, the Albigensians or Cathars. The papal war against the Albigensians was brutal, even by the standards of crusaders. The Gothic nature of the Cathedral of Sainte Cecile is no accident, as it’s meant to intimidate religious rebels.

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Commissioned by the Dominican bishop, Bernard de Casanet-head of the Inquisition in Languedoc, the Gothic Cathedral of Sainte Cecile is a reminder of the bloody crusades even decades after they happened.

The architecture is quite different than most Gothic cathedrals as there’s no flying buttresses. The supports are built into the walls of the Cathedral of Sainte Cecile, so from the outside, a series of circular watchtowers are a prominent feature.

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The cathedral looks fierce and powerful and resembles a fortification rather than a church. Although the outside looks solid and indeed a bit foreboding, the interior of the Cathedral of Sainte Cecile is a colorful detour from the Gothic façade.

Inside you’ll find an awe-inspiring mural of The Last Judgment dating from around 1474. There are also several 16th century frescoes on the rood screen and on the enormous vaulted ceiling, comprising the largest and oldest ensemble of Italian Renaissance paintings in France.

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The pride and joy of the Cathedral of Sainte Cecile is an organ, designed by Christophe Moucherel. Designed in 1736, the organ is one of three of the finest organs in France.

 

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