Aire Cathedral, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is located in the town of Aire-sur-l'Adour. It was the seat of the Bishops of Aire until the diocese was abolished in 1801 and again from 1822 when the diocese was restored; in 1857 it was renamed the Diocese of Aire and Dax. In 1933 the bishop moved to Dax, making Dax Cathedral his seat, when the cathedral at Aire became a co-cathedral.
The cathedral is situated in the lower town, where the bishops used to live. In origin a structure of the 11th and 12th centuries, it was subject to much alteration between the 14th and 17th centuries and its present appearance shows a variety of styles. The great rotunda on the chevet is especially noticeable. From the 12th century there remain three bays and an apse.
The severe 13th century façade, surmounted by a tower with a slate roof, has a simple vaulted portal with a pointed arch. The present sacristy is in origin a chapter house of the 14th century, with Gothic vaulting supported by central pillars; this is of Tolosan construction and evokes the 'palm trees' of the Dominicans. The nave has ogive vaults of the 14th century. The quire is flanked by four apsidioles giving onto the transept. The organs and side-altars are of the late 18th century, as are the stalls, the high altar and the rest of the handsome furnishings.
While the apse is being extended towards the park, the orangery, a stone building of the 17th century, is being used for temporary exhibitions.
The overall dimensions of the cathedral are 48 metres in length, 8 metres in width across the nave and 15 metres in height to the highest point of the vault.
Aire Cathedral marks a stage on the Via Podiensis, one of the pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James of Compostela, running from Le Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela via the Pass of Roncevaux.References:
The Castle of Gruyères is one of the most famous in Switzerland. It was built between 1270 and 1282, following the typical square plan of the fortifications in Savoy. It was the property of the Counts of Gruyères until the bankruptcy of the Count Michel in 1554. His creditors the cantons of Fribourg and Bern shared his earldom. From 1555 to 1798 the castle became residence to the bailiffs and then to the prefects sent by Fribourg.
In 1849 the castle was sold to the Bovy and Balland families, who used the castle as their summer residency and restored it. The castle was then bought back by the canton of Fribourg in 1938, made into a museum and opened to the public. Since 1993, a foundation ensures the conservation as well as the highlighting of the building and the art collection.
The castle is the home of three capes of the Order of the Golden Fleece. They were part of the war booty captured by the Swiss Confederates (which included troops from Gruyères) at the Battle of Morat against Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy in 1476. As Charles the Bold was celebrating the anniversary of his father's death, one of the capes is a black velvet sacerdotal vestment with Philip the Good's emblem sewn into it.
A collection of landscapes by 19th century artists Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Barthélemy Menn and others are on display in the castle.