The Renaissance mansions

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The mansions are the secret charm of the city, and bear witness to Albi’s golden age. From the late 15th to the 17th century, the trade in pastels and saffron made a fortune for merchants who built beautiful residences. The majority of private mansions cannot be seen.

THE ALBI RENAISSANCE MANSIONS

The mansions are influenced by the decorations commissioned by the bishops, which were inspired by the Italian Renaissance. Inner courtyards, corner turrets, loggias, mullioned windows with carved decorations, pilasters, capitals, masks, and handsome portals decorate their living environment and testify to their recent fortune.

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Hotels-particulier-Centre historique Albi-hotel-reynes un des plus beaux exemples albigeois-Albi Tourisme.jpg, par Fabienne

3 ICONIC MANSIONS

As you stroll through the old town, on one of the heritage routes, you should pause at no fewer than 3 mansions:

  • The Hôtel Reynès, rue Timbal, this former residence of a wealthy pastel merchant is the symbol of his success, where the marriage of stone and brick is of a rare elegance. The busts of François I and his wife Eleanor bring a royal touch to the decor, they are visible from the inner courtyard.

  • The maison Enjalbert, at the corner of the rue des Penitents and rue Timbal is the most successful example of half-timbered houses in Old Albi. It is a short walk from the Hôtel Reynes. The whole range of Renaissance decorations: double angle windows with pilasters surmounted by Ionic or Corinthian capitals, triangular pediments, consoles with decorations with masks, lozenges ... are included. Look carefully at the façade for ‘little boy weeing’ of Albi, an enigmatic sculpture located above the magnificent entrance gate, on the 1st floor
     
  • The Hôtel Saunal, rue de l’Hôtel de ville, was the residence of Simon Saunal, one of the richest merchants at the end of the 15th century. It has an elegant courtyard, a handsome carved handrail staircase and a beautiful round tower that affirms the power derived from the pastel trade. It today hosts exhibitions: the Albi painter, Raphael Cordoba’s Museum for All.
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Hotel-particulier-du centre historique-Maison-Enjalbert typique avec brique et pans de bois sculpte-Albi Tourisme.jpg, par Fabienne

THE HOTEL DE VILLE

Built in 1728, the City acquired this building as the seat for the councils and meetings of the Albi States. Above the Louis 13th style entrance gate, the city’s coat of arms is displayed, with the motto: 

“Stat baculus vigilatque, leo turresque tuetur,” or “the cross is erected, the lion watches and protects the towers.”

This motto is taken up again in the great hall of the Albi States, decorated in 1742 with a painting representing the 42 coats of arms of the cities of the diocese. A large fresco (the work of Josephine Baudouin from 1934 to 1937) traces the history and life of the city from the Crusades to the Carmaux mines.
 

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Blason-de la ville-Albi.jpg, par Fabienne