THE LARGEST BRICK BUILT CATHEDRAL IN THE WORLD
Its Southern Gothic style distinguishes it from other contemporary cathedrals such as Chartres, Reims or Amiens. Its austere and defensive appearance is reinforced by its dimensions. Whether you're coming from the direction of Toulouse, Rodez, Millau or Cordes-sur-Ciel, you can spot the Sainte-Cécile Cathedral from afar, standing proud in the centre of the city, dominating the Albi roofs. Study it well, there are no others like it!
113m long, 35m wide and a steeple 78m tall - Sainte-Cécile of Albi has exceptional dimensions.
THE LARGEST PAINTED CATHEDRAL IN EUROPE
18,500m² of frescos and decorations make this monument the largest painted Cathedral in Europe. It can be read like an illustrated Bible.
Take your time to observe the colours, the geometric patterns and the trompe l’oeil which sometimes add a pinch of humour. Follow the pillars and raise your eyes to the vaulted ceiling to appreciate the Italian Renaissance style decorations on a dark blue, mineral based background, which took 3 years to complete (1509 - 1512). Under the Great Organ, you can find the oldest representation of the Last Judgement, from the 15th century. It is a fabulous mural, covering an area of more than 200m2, where Heaven, Earth and Hell are represented. On the lower part, the punishments of the 7 deadly sins should not go unnoticed; see if you can recognise them... According to visitors, the interior of this Cathedral leaves you speechless!
THE CHOIR OF THE CANONS, A CHURCH WITHIN A CATHEDRAL
A lacework rood screen carved from white stone divides the cathedral into two parts: the nave and the large choir. Beyond the stone screen, you find the Choir of the Canons which has been recently renovated, thanks to the World Monuments Fund. The Ambulatory, the corridor surrounding the great choir, features stone statues chiselled by Burgundian Masters. Notice all the detail in the clothes, the facial expressions, the folds of the skin ... a magic wand could almost bring them to life ... not forgetting the 200 statues that make it the most important statuary in France dating from the end of the Middle Ages. Visit the choir in 360°.
THE GREAT MOUCHEREL ORGAN
The Great Organ is named after Christophe Moucherel. In the 18th century, he gave the Cathedral an instrument of extraordinary dimensions (16.40m wide - 15.30m high). The variety of its decorations ranks it among the most beautiful in France. The Christophe Moucherel Association stages free concerts on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons in July and August together with a programme of events throughout the year. Listen to the organ and the organist Frédéric Deschamps…
THE TREASURY ROOM: A SACRED ART MUSEUM
The Vault, the former treasury room and archives, hides valuable objects and effects from the 14th - 19th centuries, which belonged to the Chapter House. Another treasure, a facsimile of the Mappa Mundi, is also displayed there from June to September. Conserved for 1300 years by the residents of Albi, the Mappa Mundi is a priceless testimony to the history of humanity.
Bernard de Castanet, Bishop of Albi and Vice Inquisitor of the Languedoc for the King of France, wanted to strengthen the role of the Catholic faith against Cathar heresy. On 15th August 1282, he laid the first brick in what would become the largest brick-built cathedral in the world.
It took 100 years to build this giant made of bricks.
- Monday to Saturday 10:00am - 6:00pm (last entrances at 5:45pm and audioguides from 10:00am to 5:30pm)
- Sunday: Closed in the morning dues to masses and opening from 1:00pm to 5:30pm (last entrances at 5:15pm)
- Combined choir + treasury ticket: 6€.
- Ticket combined with the Albi City Pass includes fastrack entrance.
- Entry into the choir: 5€.
- Free for under 12 year olds.
Guided tours of the Episcopal City
Most guided visits are in French but we can also organise a private tour in English.