The Episcopal City of Albi
Highlights of The Episcopal City of Albi
Introduction to The Episcopal City of Albi
One of the newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France, the Episcopal City of Albi is centered around its magnificent cathedral and fortified palace. Situated on the banks of the Tarn River in the southwestern portion of the country, Albi provides fine examples of medieval and French Gothic architecture and much of the city has remained unchanged for more than seven centuries. The grandeur of the city was indicative of its position as a Roman Catholic stronghold, particular after the 13th century, though much of it was built in the 10th and 11th centuries.
The Episcopal City of Albi Gallery
Guide to The Episcopal City of Albi
There are a number of attractions to visit while exploring the Episcopal City of Albi. Most notable is the cathedral of Sainte-Cecile, built in Languedoc-style red brick. This magnificent cathedral, considered a grand masterpiece of Southern French Gothic style, includes an stark exterior that resembles a fortress, but the interior is ornate and quite lovely, featuring a rood screen fashioned in Flamboyant Gothic style, 200 pieces of Burgundian polychromatic statuary, and France’s oldest collection of Italian Renaissance paintings. Of particular note is the mural entitled The Last Judgment. The organ was built and installed in the 18th century.
The Palais de la Berbie is one of the best-preserved castles in the country and one of the oldest as well. Completed in the late 1200s, it is an imposing structure, but today it is home to the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, paying homage to the city’s native son with the world’s largest collection of his works.
The Pont Vieux Bridge is more than 1,000 years old and is a favorite location for photo taking. Built in stone and then covered with brick, the bridge includes eight arches and measures 151 meters (almost 500 feet) long. A drawbridge was added and the bridge was fortified in the 14th century.
Video of The Episcopal City of Albi
[youtube id="Cyritc9VLHo" width="730"]
[vimeo id="29366551" width="730"]
History of The Episcopal City of Albi
Albi is located on the River Tarn in southern France, about 85 km (53 miles) from the city of Toulouse. The “Episcopal City” is located in the central portion of the town around the cathedral, and was named as such because it was the seat of the Archbishop of Albi.
Albi is believed to have been first settled by humans during the Bronze Age (circa 3000 to 600 BC). It was later a Roman settlement, probably just before the birth of Christ, but little evidence of Roman architectural remains has been discovered there.
Albi experienced one of its largest periods of growth in the 11th century A.D., when many new homes and other buildings were constructed. Also built during this period of time was the picturesque Pont Vieux Bridge, which still stands today. It was during the 11th century that Albi became a rich center for trade, though it made some of its money by charging tolls to travelers who crossed the Pont Vieux Bridge.
However, in 1208 the town was left in disrepair after the war against the Cathars, who had developed their own version of Christianity, greatly angering the Roman Catholic Church. The area was later annexed by the French Crown because of the Cathar connection. After the uprising against the Cathars, however, the city experienced a renaissance once again.
At the end of the 13th century, Bishop Bernard de Castanet completed work on a grand bishop’s palace, the Palais de la Berbie, which resembled a fortress. This was the start of a more prosperous Albi. The town was further enhanced by the building of Sainte-Cecile Cathedral. Construction of this ecclesiastic building began in 1282 but wasn’t completed until two centuries later in 1480. Nevertheless, it is the largest brick cathedral – and in fact – the largest brick building in the world. Elegant homes were built during this period of time as well, adding prestige to the city.
Getting to The Episcopal City of Albi
The Episcopal City of Albi is easy to explore on foot. The World Heritage site covers about 48 acres and the town is pedestrian friendly. It costs a few Euros to enter the cathedral and explore the interior and there is also a fee for the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum. Both are open daily with longer hours from June through October.
Albi can be reached via the Paris-Albi night train. In addition, there are 15 trains per day that connect Albi with the city of Toulouse. That trip takes about an hour.
The Episcopal City of Albi News
[RSSImport display="10" feedurl="http://news.google.com/news?q=albi+world+heritage&hl=en&safe=off&ie=UTF-8&output=rss" displaydescriptions="true" html="true" start_items="
- " end_items="
" paging="false" date="true"]
The Episcopal City of Albi Tours
The Episcopal City of Albi Weather