The Episcopal City of Albi has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since August 2010.
Built in response to the Cathar heresy, as a fortress symbolizing the power of the Catholic Church, the Cathedral of St. Cecilia is the largest brick cathedral in the world, 113 meters long and 35 meters wide.
The cathedral of Albi is characteristic of the southern Gothic with its unique nave of 100 meters long. The concern not to split the space goes so far as to integrate the pillars in the wall (they form a kind of internal buttresses)
It dominates the city with its bell tower of 78 meters finished in 1492 shortly after the consecration, in 1480, of the choir.
The mural painting of the Last Judgment, recognized as the greatest in the world, produced between 1474 and 1484, offers a representation of the end of times that we probably owe to Flemish artists.
In 1509, Italian painters covered the vault of the cathedral with frescoes making up the largest collection of Renaissance paintings made in France.
The Sainte-Cécile cathedral is a lively place where hundreds of thousands of people of all origins and confessions come to admire the architecture and decoration each year and are silent in this meaningful space.
(Thanks to Mairie d’Albi)
NEF UNIQUE AND COUNTERFORMS
The architecture of Sainte-Cécile is organized from a single nave. No flying buttresses thus a stripping that contrasts with the cathedrals of the North
The wall rises in a single stream, the vaults of the chapels lodged between the buttresses being carried to the root of those of the nave. The rounded buttresses, originality unique to Albi and which makes it unique, comes to rhythm the nudity of the wall surfaces and to remove any dryness. The vertical wall, framed by half-cylinders that refine upwards, thus perfectly makes the momentum and “tension” of the Gothic. The sun generates the shadows that animate the whole and come to affirm its massive power.
Nevertheless, the continuity of space, which dominated the original project, was broken at the end of the 15th century by the addition of the rood screen, which introduces a form of quota of the interior volume. This prejudice to the unity of the whole is compensated by the beauty of the rood screen, one of the most beautiful in France. The jube is in flamboyant Gothic style. Only a few statues escaped the destruction of 1794: Adam and Eve (polychrome stone) as well as Mary and Saint John (wood).
The choir, which ends with a seven-sided roundabout, is surrounded by an ambulatory punctuated with 33 statues. They are characters from the Old Testament, including two women Esther and Judith. Judith, in particular, possesses splendid clothes
Inside are the statues of the 12 apostles, the Virgin, Saint John the Baptist, Saint Paul and Saint Cecilia. The choir contains 120 stalls.
The walls and the quadripartite vaults are entirely painted. In 1509, Italian painters were employed for the interior decoration (these paintings, still splendid, have never been restored). The blue and gold tones dominate. They relate the life of Saint Cecilia and the biblical episodes: the pedagogical elements for the faithful, which are generally found outside the cathedrals, are here inside.
The centerpiece of these frescoes is the Last Judgment (18 x 15 meters). At the time, the back wall was not pierced by a door. At the site of the present gate was doubtless a Christ in majesty, accompanied by the Virgin and St. John. St Michael, beneath him, judged the souls. On the right of the site where Christ was to be found, we can see Saint Louis, Charlemagne and the apostles.
At the bottom of the fresco, there is hell and a representation of the seven deadly sins: the proud is subjected to the torture of the wheel, the envious is soaked successively in icy water and then in a lake of fire, Le colereux Is devoured by the devil, the miser is immersed in vats of molten metal, the greedy is fattened at the funnel, the luxurious sees his sex devoured by a toad. Only the laziness, which was to be found beneath Christ in majesty, lay on the site of the present gate.
(Thanks to http://architecture.relig.free.fr/albi)