Basilique Saint-Sernin | ©kristobalite/Flickr
Former Abbey church
The Basilique of Saint-Sernin, formally known as the Abbey of Saint Sernin, is centuries old, first built in 1180. The church is holy ground, located on a site that holds the remains of the 4th century saint it is named after. Constructed of brick in the Romanesque style, the building’s design replicates a crucifix. The interior of the basilica is simply exquisite, complete with a crypt, grand 17th century organ, and nave. The exterior is also quite grand, with a bell tower and a spire that is so tall it can be seen from many vantage points throughout the city. The church is somewhat encased in a courtyard, surrounded by lush green grass and full trees; there is no aspect of the site that is not breathtakingly gorgeous. Attend daily mass, or pop in for a quick visit to admire the lovely structure.
Cathédrale Saint-Etienne | ©Pierre Metivier/Flickr
Also known as the Toulouse Cathedral, the Cathédrale Saint-Etienne is a Roman Catholic Church that seats the archbishop of Toulouse. The gothic-Romanesque structure dates back to the 13th century and features a gothic nave, rose window, baptismal font, tapestries, and stone statues. The cathedral is complete with fifteen unique chapels and an ambulatory, or ‘walking space’ on the east end of the church, behind the high altar. Gather with the community and join in daily mass, or visit privately to enjoy a personal worshipping experience. There are occasional events that take place at the Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, including weddings, holiday concerts, special mass, and more. Visit their website to learn about ways the church helps the poor, and how you can volunteer to assist the people of Toulouse.
Notre-Dame de la Daurade | ©Kimon Berlin/Flickr
This waterfront basilica was established way back in 410, so it’s no surprise that it has a rich history. The temple was originally built in dedication to the Greek god Apollo. Then, from the 9th century to the 15th century, it was an active monastery, before being demolished during a period of social decline. The church was rebuilt during the 1700s, but was quickly shut down and converted into a tobacco factory. Years later, the church was reestablished and has been open since. Notre-Dame de la Daurade is known for housing an elaborate shrine of the Black Madonna, but the icon was stolen, burned, and replaced many times over. Come explore the reestablished shrine, as well as the seven-sided sanctuary and exquisite choir organs.
Ensemble Conventuel des Jacobins | ©musical photo man/Flickr
Ancient Jacobins church
Located within the city center, the Ensemble Conventuel des Jacobins, or Jacobin Convent Complex, was founded in 1215. Built by the Order of Preachers, the center is comprised of two chapels, a cloister, a chapter house, and an over 100-foot tall bell tower. Find solitude out in the cloister gardens, filled with lush green grass and many tall trees. Though it is often a quiet and peaceful site, it is frequently used for community events, such as concerts and festivals. Nearly 300,000 people from around the world visit the convent each year, hoping to see some of the magnificent architecture, and religious art housed within the structure. Keep an eye out for beautiful stained glass windows, in addition to the famous ‘Palm of the Jacobins,’ an architectural wonder made up of a double nave, columns, and star-shaped vaults. The church and chapel are free to enter, but the cloister and chapter house cost a small fee.
Notre Dame du Taur | ©marycesyl,/Flickr
Legendary Roman Catholic church
Legend states that Saint Sernin, the first Christian bishop of Toulouse, was asked to sacrifice a bull in honor of the Emperor. After his refusal, he was attached to the bull as punishment and was killed when the bull, in a rage, ran down the steps of the capital and into the city square. The Notre Dame du Taur, or Church of the Bull, was built in the exact spot where this historic tragedy supposedly took place. Take a free, guided tour of the grounds, or peruse the church on your own, and discover the bell tower, street-facing façade, and ancient relics. Just be sure you don’t miss ‘The Martyrdom of Saint Saturnin,’ a beautiful painting by Jean-Louis Bézard hung on the left wall of the nave.
By: Shyla Watson