Toulouse - Encyclopedia

GEOGRAPHICAL NAMES Spanish Simplified Chinese French German Russian Hindi Arabic Portuguese

TOULOUSE, a city of south-western France, capital of the department of Haute-Garonne, 443 m. S. by W. of Paris by the Orleans railway, and 159 m. S.E. of Bordeaux by the Southern railway. Pop. (1906), town, 125,856; commune, 149,438.149,438. Toulouse is situated on the right bank of the Garonne, which here changes a north-easterly for a north-westerly direction, describing a curve round which the city extends in the form of a crescent. On the left bank is the suburb of St Cyprien, which is exposed to the inundations of the river owing to its low situation. The river is spanned by three bridges - that of St Pierre to the north, that of St Michel to the south, and the Pont Neuf in the centre; the last, a fine structure of seven arches was begun in 1543 by Nicolas Bachelier, the sculptor, whose work is to be seen in many of the churches and mansions of the city. East and north of the city runs the Canal du Midi, which here joins the lateral canal of the Garonne. Between the Canal du Midi and the city proper extends a long line of boulevards leading southwards by the Allee St Etienne to the Grand Rond, a promenade whence a series of allees branch out in all directions. South-west the Allee St Michel leads towards the Garonne, and south the Grande Allee towards the Faubourg St Michel. These boulevards take the place of the old city walls. Between them and the canal lie the more modern faubourgs of St Pierre, Arnaud-Bernard, Matabiau, &c. The Place du Capitole, to which streets converge from every side, occupies the centre of the city. Two broad straight thoroughfares of modern construction, the Rue de Metz and the Rue d'Alsace-Lorraine, intersect one another to the south of this point, the first running east from the Pont Neuf, the other running north and south. The other streets are for the most part narrow and irregular.

The most interesting building in Toulouse is the church of St Sernin or Saturnin, whom legend represents as the first preacher of the gospel in Toulouse, where he was perhaps martyred about the middle of the 3rd century. The choir, the oldest part of the present building, was consecrated by Urban II. in 1096. The church is the largest Romanesque basilica in existence, being 375 ft. from east to west and 210 ft. in extreme breadth. The nave (12th and 13th centuries) has double aisles. Four pillars, supporting the central tower, are surrounded by heavy masonry, which somewhat spoils the general harmony of the interior. In the southern transept is the "portail des comtes," so named because near it lie the tombs of William Taillefer, Pons, and other early counts of Toulouse. The little chapel in which these tombs (ascribed to the 11th century) are found was restored by the capitols of Toulouse in 1648. Another chapel contains a Byzantine Christ of late 11th-century workmanship. The choir (11th and 12th centuries) ends in an apse, or rather chevet, surrounded by a range of columns, marking off an aisle, which in its turn opens into five chapels. The stalls are of 16th-century work and grotesquely carved. Against the northern wall is an ancient table d'autel, which an 11th-century inscription declares to have belonged to St Sernin. In the crypts are many relics, which, however, were robbed of their gold and silver shrines during the Revolution. On the south there is a fine outer porch in the Renaissance style; it is surmounted by a representation of the Ascension in Byzantine style. The central tower (13th century) consists of five storeys, of which the two highest are of later date, but harmonize with the three lower ones. A restoration of St Sernin was carried out in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc.

The cathedral, dedicated to St Stephen, dates from three different epochs. The walls of the nave belong to a Romanesque cathedral of the 11th century, but its roof dates from the first half of the 13th century. The choir was begun by Bishop Bertrand de l'Ile (c. 1272), who wished to build another church in place of the old one. This wish was unfulfilled and the original nave, the axis of which is to the south of that of the choir, remains. The choir was burned in 1690 but restored soon after. It is surrounded by seventeen chapels, finished by the cardinal d'Orleans, nephew of Louis XI., about the beginning of the 16th century, and adorned with glass dating from the 15th to the 17th century. The western gate, flanked by a huge square tower, was constructed by Peter du Moulin, archbishop of Toulouse, from 1439 to 1451. It has been greatly battered, and presents but a poor approximation to its ancient beauty. Over this gate, which was once ornamented with the statues of St Sernin, St Exuperius and the twelve apostles, as well as those of the two brother archbishops of Toulouse, Denis (1423-1439) and Peter du Moulin, there is a beautiful 13th-century rose-window, whose centre, however, is not in a perpendicular line with the point of the Gothic arch below.

Among other remarkable churches may be noticed Notre-Dame de la Daurade, near the Pont Neuf, built on the site of a 9th-century Benedictine abbey and reconstructed towards the end of the 18th century; and Notre-Dame de la Dalbade; perhaps existing in the 11th, but in its present form dating from the 16th century, with a fine Renaissance portal. The church of the Jacobins, held by Viollet-le-Duc to be "one of the most beautiful brick churches constructed in the middle ages," was built towards the end of the 13th century, and consists of a nave divided into two aisles by a range of columns. The chief exterior feature is a beautiful octagonal belfry. The church belonged to a Dominican monastery, of which part of the cloister, the refectory, the chapter-hall and the chapel also remain and are utilized by the lycee. Of the other secular buildings the most noteworthy are the capitole and the museum. The capitole has a long Ionic facade built from 1750 to 1760. The theatre is situated in the left wing. Running along almost the whole length of the first floor is the salle des illustres adorned with modern paintings and sculptures relating to the history of the town. The museum (opened in 1795) occupies, besides a large modern building, the church, cloisters and other buildings of an old Augustinian convent. It contains pictures and a splendid collection of antiquities, notably a series of statues and busts of Roman emperors and others and much Romanesque sculpture. There is an auxiliary museum in the old college of St Raymond. The natural history museum is in the Jardin des Plantes. The law courts stand on the site of the old Château Narbonais, once the residence of the counts of Toulouse and later the seat of the parlement of Toulouse. Near by is a statue of the jurist Jacques Cujas, born at Toulouse.

Toulouse is singularly rich in mansions of the 16th and 17th centuries. Among these may be mentioned the Hotel Bernuy, a fine Renaissance building now used by the lycee and the Hotel d'Assezat of the same period, now the property of the Academie des Jeux Floraux (see below), and of the learned societies of the city. In the court of the latter there is a statue of Clemence Isaure, a lady of Toulouse, traditionally supposed to have enriched the Academie by a bequest in the 15th century. The Maison de Pierre has an elaborate stone facade of 1612.

Toulouse is the seat of an archbishopric, of a court of appeal, a court of assizes and of a prefect. It is also the headquarters of the XVII. army corps and centre of an educational circumscription (academie). There are tribunals of first instance and of commerce, a board of trade-arbitration, a chamber of commerce and a branch of the Bank of France. The educational institutions include faculties of law, medicine and pharmacy, science and letters, a Catholic institute with faculties of theology and letters„ higher and lower ecclesiastical seminaries, lycees and training colleges for both sexes, and schools of veterinary science, fine arts and industrial sciences and music.

Toulouse, the principal commercial and industrial centre of Languedoc, has important markets for horses, wine, grain, flowers, leather, oil and farm produce. Its pastry and other delicacies. are highly esteemed. Its industrial establishments include the national tobacco factory, flour-mills, saw-mills, engineering workshops and factories for farming implements, bicycles, vehicles,. artificial manures, paper, boots and shoes, and flour pastes.

Custom Search

Encyclopedia Alphabetically

A * B * C * D * E * F * G * H * I * J * K * L * M * N * O * P * Q * R * S * T * U * V * W * X * Y * Z

Advertise Here


- Please bookmark this page (add it to your favorites)
- If you wish to link to this page, you can do so by referring to the URL address below.

This page was last modified 29-SEP-18
Copyright © 2018 ITA all rights reserved.