The exact date of the original Toulouse Cathedral is unknown; the first mention of a church building on that site is found in a charter of 844. In 1073 the bishop of Toulouse commenced work on a more elaborate structure, followed by additional construction in the 13th century.
The irregular west front exists because the cathedral consists of two incomplete churches, the first dating from the early 13th century, which includes the rose window from 1230; and the other begun in about 1272, on a new plan and a different axis, which was later abandoned, although by 1445 a triforium had been added to the choir and a Flamboyant west portal had been inserted. It is off-center because the architect took care to save the baptismal chapel north of the entrance. An oblong tower, composed of a Gothic portion on Romanesque foundations, and capped by a 16th-century gable belfry, completed the west façade. Also in the 15th century the nave and choir vaults were unsymmetrically connected, while in 1609, after a fire, the choir vault was rebuilt. It was not until the 1920s that its north wall was cleared of abutting buildings and a doorway added, similar in style to the west entrance.
The interior is as disconcerting as the exterior because the two sections are not on the same axis and juxtapose two styles of Gothic architecture. A massive round pillar, built at the beginning of the 16th century in an attempt to begin the transept, now stands incongruously between the two parts, lining up with the center of the nave in the west, and with the south pillars of the choir in the east. The vast proportions of the five-bay choir, with ambulatory and radiating chapels, dwarf the older nave. Of the 15 chapels, the oldest date from 1279–86, but the majority were completed during the 14th century. Most of the stained glass is 19th-century, but there is glass from almost every century beginning with the end of the 13th in the Saint Vincent de Paul chapel. This is the oldest stained glass in Toulouse.
The interesting choir stalls whose decoration includes pagan and mythological subjects were carved in walnut in 1610-13 by Pierre Monge of Narbonne. The walnut case of the organ was carved at the same time, rising some 17 meters above the floor. Restored in 1868 by Cavaillé-Coll and in 1976, the organ is often used for concerts.
The beautiful, but worn, tapestries (c. 1609) by Jean du Mazet, and the Baroque retable of the high altar are also of particular note.References:
Built around AD 90 to entertain the legionaries stationed at the fort of Caerleon (Isca), the impressive amphitheatre was the Roman equivalent of today’s multiplex cinema. Wooden benches provided seating for up to 6,000 spectators, who would gather to watch bloodthirsty displays featuring gladiatorial combat and exotic wild animals.
Long after the Romans left, the amphitheatre took on a new life in Arthurian legend. Geoffrey of Monmouth, the somewhat imaginative 12th-century scholar, wrote in his History of the Kings of Britain that Arthur was crowned in Caerleon and that the ruined amphitheatre was actually the remains of King Arthur’s Round Table.
Today it is the most complete Roman amphitheatre in Britain.