Toulouse - the pearl of southern France architecture
June 28, 2019
by Evgeny Kulkov
Each city has its own symbol. For example, in Moscow – the Kremlin, in London – Big Ben. Well, the southern beauty of Toulouse in France is the Capitol (city hall). As in ancient Rome, the Capitol governs, if not the country, but the whole city. This is a beautiful building in a beautiful square, which I have already told you about. But the Capitol has a secret that you don’t know yet.
Place Charles de Gaulle
Go around the building. Here the square de Gaulle rustles with trees, with a funny fountain. It consists of a dozen smooth granite slabs, directly from which water jets periodically beat. And it is unclear: where will shoot the next stream of water. So this place is of particular interest to children and dogs who frolic among these jets.
Near the fountain stands a bronze old man and it’s none other than Claude Nougaro (1929-2004), the famous French poet and singer, a native of Toulouse. On the pedestal, there is a line of his song “Voici le Capitole, j’y arrete mes pas (that’s the Capitol, where I stop my steps)”… Yes, he was not always a dry old man near the fountain!
Church Of The Jacobins
We’ll walk down Lafayette street and turn left into Lacanal street. Almost immediately we will see the gloomy block of the Church of the Jacobins. But its austere architecture is deceptive. Go inside for her secrets. Here the impression of massiveness at once dissipated. The high nave is bathed in soft light, illuminating the so-called “Jacobin palms” – powerful Central columns with a height of more than 25 meters, from each of which 22 ribs diverge at the top, forming the structure of the arch. These unique, dizzying palm-shaped columns glorified the Jacobin Church as one of the most beautiful buildings in Christian Europe. It is also known for the fact that Thomas Aquinas is buried here – the most famous of all the Catholic theologian.
Jean de Bernuy’s mansion
We’ll go a little further down Lacanal. Ahead we see the hexagonal tower of Bernuy mansion, the highest in Toulouse (26.5 m). The mansion was built in 1533 for the rich merchant, who made a fortune on the trade of “waida” (Isatis tinctoria). This is a plant, from which in the middle ages made blue paint. At the moment, in the mansion of Bernuy is the city Lyceum, named after the famous mathematician Pierre Fermat, who worked almost all his life in Toulouse. The mansion also has a secret – the arches of the courtyard are decorated with medallions with images of various mythological characters and real people – you can find “portraits” of the architect of the house – Louis Privat and its owner – Jean de Bernuy.
The Museum “Old Toulouse”
A stone’s throw from the street of St. Ursula, which will lead us to another mansion of the XVI century, owned by Antoine Dumas, the personal doctor of the famous Queen Margot. The house was built in 1585 in the architectural style of The Renaissance. His secret is the Museum “Old Toulouse”, which is inside. In the Museum you can see views of the city, portraits of its famous inhabitants, objects of everyday life, folk costumes and even the instrument of execution of the last Duke of Montmorency.
Palace of Assez
The last secret for today is waiting for us in the Palace of Assez, near which we find ourselves turning from St. Ursula street to Metz street. The customer of the Palace, the industrialist Assez, went bankrupt and died before the end of construction, but thanks to him we can admire this masterpiece today. Spectacularly decorated, the courtyard is a monumental portal made of wood. Three floors of the building are designed in three classical orders of architecture: the first floor is the Ionic order, the second – Doric and the third – Corinthian.
The Palace is now represented by the Bemberg Foundation: paintings by European artists 15-20 centuries. But the secret of this place is different: in addition to the Bemberg Foundation here is the world’s only Academy of flower games (florals). It organizes Toulouse poetry competitions for flower prizes, held annually in May. These competitions originated in the 14th century, and then gradually began to lose its popularity, but in the 15th century was restored thanks to donations and efforts of a noble townswoman Clemence Isoir. Now, this lady is considered one of the symbols of Toulouse. And in 1696, the Royal decree was formed and the Academy of flower games. It still exists today. So if you want to see the Troubadour poets – come to Toulouse!