December 4, 2013

0886 FRANCE (Occitania) - Episcopal City of Albi (UNESCO WHS)

Located on the River Tarn, in Languedoc, Albi was inhabited since the Bronze Age, but began to develop only in 11th century, in 1040 being built the Pont Vieux (Old Bridge), and new quarters. The city grew rich at this time, thanks to trade and commercial exchanges, and also to the tolls charged to travelers for using the Pont Vieux. In the second half of the 12th century became one of the important centers of the Cathars, a christian movement which claimed the idea of two Gods or principles, one being good (the God of the New Testament) and the other evil (Satan). Of course that the movement was declared heretical, and the repression was severe, many Cathars being burnt at the stake. The area, until then virtually independent, was reduced to such a condition that it was subsequently annexed by the French Crown.

After the upheaval of the brutal Albigensian Crusade, the bishop Bernard de Castanet, in the late 13th century, completed work on the Palais de la Berbie, a Bishops' Palace with the look of a fortress, and ordered the building of the cathedral of Sainte-Cécile (1282). The town enjoyed a period of commercial prosperity largely due to the cultivation of Isatis Tinctoria, commonly known as woad, one of the three staples of the dyeing industry (blue),  along with weld (yellow) and madder (red). The fine houses built during the Renaissance bear witness to the vast fortunes amassed by the pastel merchants. Albi has conserved its rich architectural heritage which encapsulates the various brilliant periods of its history, being designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010.

Albi was built around the original cathedral and episcopal group of buildings, a statement of the Christian faith after the upheavals of the Cathar heresy. Red brick and tiles are the main feature of most of the edifices. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Sainte Cécile cathedral (in the postcard) is a masterpiece of the Southern Gothic style, characterised by a strong contrast between its austere, defensive exterior and its sumptuous interior decoration. It is also the largest brick building in the world.

In the foreground of the postcard, on the river Tarn, is a gabare (barge or scow), a traditional type of ship serving usually for the transshipment of materials from a ship which can't dock in the port range. The term gabare or gabare gabarros actually refers to several types of river boats, their common thread being that all have the flat bottom called sole, which allows him, with a shallow draft, carrying a maximum load.

About the stamp
The stamp is part of a comemorative series issued on 27 April, 1974, dedicated to the Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer.

Albi - Wikipedia
Episcopal City of Albi - UNESCO official website

Sender: Sébastien C. (direct swap)
Sent from Bordeaux (Aquitaine / France), on 26.11.2013
Photo: P. Garnier

No comments:

Post a Comment