Albi, Episcopal City - Visit time : 1 day.
What is striking when you first arrive in Albi is the brick, to which the city’s urban complex owes its unique splendor. Unique in its colors – pink, red and yellow-orange – that change from sunrise to sunset. Unique in the power that exudes from the façades of the Saint Cécile Cathedral and the Berbie Palace. Unique in its architectural harmony, maintained for centuries, where Romanesque, Gothic and southern Renaissance styles collide, and merge. Located on the edge of the Tarn River, the old medieval town of Albi offers visitors a charming and harmonious architectural and urban ensemble.
The Episcopal City of Albi presents a building complex representative of the type of urban development in Europe from the Middle Ages to the present day. Its monumental and urban elements are complementary and well preserved, in a subtle harmony of tones and appearance thanks to the use of local fired brick. It is a testimony to a programme which was simultaneously defensive and spiritual, and which was implemented by the Roman Catholic bishops following the suppression of the Albigensian, or Cathar, heresy in the 13th century. The Saint Cécile Cathedral is the most remarkable monumental symbol, in a Gothic architectural style unique to southern France, to which grand internal painted murals, a choir, and a late-Gothic statuary were added in the 15th and 16th centuries. Finally, the outstanding value of the city is expressed by a medieval urban landscape that is both well preserved and extremely authentic.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (iv): The historic city of Albi presents an outstanding medieval architectural and urban ensemble. It is homogeneous and is expressed through a high-quality urban landscape that possesses high visual coherence because of the generalised and enduring use of local fired brick. The Saint Cécile Cathedral is an exceptional architectural and decorative example of the adaptation of the Gothic style the context of Southern France.
Criterion (v): The Albi urban site developed gradually over the centuries, and notably from the Middle Ages onward. The events of the Albigensian Crusade transformed it into a symbolic Episcopal city structured around its Cathedral and its Episcopal fortress-palace. This is one of the rare examples of ensembles of this kind that are complete and well preserved to such a high degree. It expresses, in a very comprehensive way, a type of urban settlement that was characteristic of medieval and Renaissance Europe.
Source : UNESCO / ICOMOS