Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges Cathedral was originally built in the 12th century in Romanesque style. Over the northern and southern walls there are still Romanesque arches, the floor is made of marble and includes some tombs and sepulchurs. The cloister is also clearly Romanesque and offers an impressive view over the entire valley.
The Gothic part is built in the Meridional Gothic style. There is a single nave that is 55m long, 16m wide and 28m high. Over the arrow arches there are the coats of arms of the founding bishops. The stained glass windows are impressive with their intricate details, almost comparable to those of Auch.
The stalls within the choir were commissioned by Jean de Mauléon but because of the lack of documents it is impossible to name the artist that made them, although, by comparison with other stalls, these are often considered to be the work of Nicolas Bachelier, or rather, of his school which had been using artists from France, Spain and Italy. Most of the work was done in oak and walnut tree, and the choir seems to be separate from the rest of the church in that it contrasts so much with the Gothic and Romanesque parts.
The sixty-seven stalls represent characters from both the Old and the New Testaments.
Bizarrely, there is a stuffed crocodile inside the cathedral. This fact, as well as a general description of the cathedral itself and details of its history, features prominently in Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book, a ghost story by M. R. James.
The former cathedral has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France.References:
From its origin as a small stronghold built by the ancient Illyrian tribe Dalmatae, becoming a royal castle that was the seat of many Croatian kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source of defense in Dalmatia, especially against the Ottoman advance, and has been a key crossroad between the Mediterranean belt and the Balkan rear.
Since Duke Mislav of the Duchy of Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress served as the seat of many Croatia"s rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Duchy of Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress, and in Rižinice, in the valley under the fortress, he built a church and the first Benedictine monastery in Croatia. During the reign of the first Croatian king, Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.
In March 1242 at Klis Fortress, Tatars who were a constituent segment of the Mongol army under the leadership of Kadan suffered a major defeat while in pursuit of the Hungarian army led by King Béla IV. After their defeat by Croatian forces, the Mongols retreated, and Béla IV rewarded many Croatian towns and nobles with 'substantial riches'. During the Late Middle Ages, the fortress was governed by Croatian nobility, amongst whom Paul I Šubić of Bribir was the most significant. During his reign, the House of Šubić controlled most of modern-day Croatia and Bosnia. Excluding the brief possession by the forces of Bosnian King, Tvrtko I, the fortress remained in Hungaro-Croatian hands for the next several hundred years, until the 16th century.
Klis Fortress is probably best known for its defense against the Ottoman invasion of Europe in the early 16th century. Croatian captain Petar Kružić led the defense of the fortress against a Turkish invasion and siege that lasted for more than two and a half decades. During this defense, as Kružić and his soldiers fought without allies against the Turks, the military faction of Uskoks was formed, which later became famous as an elite Croatian militant sect. Ultimately, the defenders were defeated and the fortress was occupied by the Ottomans in 1537. After more than a century under Ottoman rule, in 1669, Klis Fortress was besieged and seized by the Republic of Venice, thus moving the border between Christian and Muslim Europe further east and helping to contribute to the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The Venetians restored and enlarged the fortress, but it was taken by the Austrians after Napoleon extinguished the republic itself in 1797. Today, Klis Fortress contains a museum where visitors to this historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms.