Albi Cathedral is a stunning spectacle. An invincible fortress on the outside, on the inside this masterpiece of Southern Gothic architecture features an interior decoration of outstanding splendour and sophistication. Here you can admire the largest medieval Judgement Day scene (1485-1500) painted in tempera by Franco-Flemish artists.
Twenty thousand square metres of frescoes in Albi
Furthermore, the vault frescoes
, for which the dark blue was obtained by mixing lapis lazuli with copper oxide, make up the largest and oldest collection of Italian art painted in France in the early Renaissance period
In all, the painted decorations in Albi Cathedral cover an area of 20,000 m2!
In the more modest but just as moving Romanesque churches of the Louron Valley
(Hautes Pyrénées), you will be amazed by the frescoes painted by Aragonese artists
. These paintings date from the 16th century, when the conquest of America filled the coffers of nearby Spain with gold, resulting in an intense period of artistic exchange between this corner of Midi-Pyrénées and Aragon, just over the border.
Saint Lizier: the oldest major Romanesque frescoes in the Pyrenees
In recent years there has been a host of projects to restore frescoes often discovered by chance during building work in churches.
One of these is in the Cathedral of Saint Lizier in Saint Lizier (there is another cathedral in Saint Lizier, Notre Dame de la Sède). Visitors can now see the remarkable collection of 11th century frescoes on the choir vault and walls. Painted by a group of artists of Italian origin, they are considered to be the oldest major Romanesque paintings of the Pyrenean regions.
The treasures of rural churches
Midi-Pyrénées is home to a host of stunning frescoes, found not only inside magnificent cathedrals but also in modest country churches
. For example, step inside the amazing rock church in Vals
(Ariège), the churches in Mont d’Astarac
(Gers), or Notre Dame de Saux near Montpezat-du-Quercy
(Tarn et Garonne) and you will see a host of colours and figures from another time, an unexpected treasure in intimate surroundings, brought to life for you alone by the play of light and shade.
Albi and Saint Lizier (part of the Ariège 14,000 Years of History collection) are Great Tourist Sites in Midi-Pyrénées