Little to say for myself

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Albi Cathedral

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I did a stint of work in Toulouse recently. As is often the case with such trips, I only had one day off while I was there, so I made the most of it. I went to Albi to re-live my first visit a few years back. The main attraction is the extraordinary Saint C├ęcile's Cathedral, although the Toulouse Lautrec Museum is also worth the trip.

The cathedral is the most amazing place. From the outside it looks like a huge gothic grain silo - acres of featureless fuck-off brickwork. But step from the intense heat and sunlight into the cavernous cool, and as your eyes accustom to the gloom you are met with the most dazzling and beautiful sight. Every square inch of the interior is painted with the most amazing scenes and patterns of every colour. Apparently the painting was done by Italians almost exactly 500 years ago, and has never been restored. Some of it, particularly the vaulted ceiling, looks much more recent (the colours are so vibrant), presumably because it's never been exposed to bright light.

I took dozens of photos, but it's impossible to capture the full effect. Nevertheless, here are a few details:

The Grain Silo exterior

The interior

Mural depicting topless sunbathers using medieval sunscreen technology to prevent nipple-burn.

Presumably the bibles were added later, in more prudish times, but clearly not late enough to be at a time when the idea of conveniently-placed levitating reading matter might seem a little contrived.

It really is worth a detour if you're ever within striking distance.

posted by Plig | 21:02 |

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