Château de Saint-Izaire

Saint-Izaire, France

The Château de Saint-Izaire is a 14th-century episcopal castle. It is maintained by an association known as Vie et Château (Life and Castle), who have created a mini museum on the premises to record the history of the castle and the inhabitants of the village of Saint-Izaire.

The castle is a massive quadrangular red stone building that shelters the town hall of the village of Saint-Izaire. The structure is supported by a keep-tower in the southern wing (partially demolished since the 19th century). This keep contains mural frescoes dating from the 14th century, and the ceiling in the room of the bishops in the Baroque style of the 17th century.

The castle was built by Guillaume Rotlindes, ancestor of the current Rollinde de Beaumont. It was intended as a gift to the Abbey of Vabres, close to the commune of Saint-Affrique: the deed attesting the gift is preserved to the present day. The castle was often used as a summer residence by the abbey. When the cathedral and palace of Vabres were razed in the wars of religion, the castle was used by refugees from the abbey.

The Château de Saint-Izaire is one of a group of 23 castles in Aveyron who have joined together to provide a tourist itinerary as the Route des Seigneurs du Rouergue.

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Details

Founded: 14th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

More Information

en.wikipedia.org

Rating

4.2/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

philippe ciuffetelli (5 months ago)
Beautiful village
Jean Francois Andrieu (5 months ago)
To see in passing
Fabien Lombard (6 months ago)
Grandiose. You have to go back over thirty years to see that the castle was in a very pronounced state of degradation. Since then, the work of hundreds of volunteers combined with the generosity of local patrons, have managed to restore this imposing place to its majesty, both in terms of its appearance and its history. Inside, you will have the chance to visit a large number of pieces, which, in very different states, have authenticity in common. Don't miss the Bishop's bedroom, breathtaking with its Louis XIII ceiling, as well as the grand gallery and the portrait room, both grandiose. To add value to the whole thing, some of the many refurbished rooms house a small museum dedicated to archery. A castle not to be missed under any circumstances on the route of the lords of Rouergue.
nelly robert (2 years ago)
impressive building, the explanations are interesting, not too boring. a nice visit to do
O FOURM (2 years ago)
Castle well preserved at the cost of important efforts for such a small town. Interesting tour especially for the original architecture of the building with its beautiful square courtyard. The visit includes a complete section dedicated to archery very well documented. Too bad the village does not have a restoration point worthy of the name that would make it a pleasant passage.
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Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.