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Interior views of Albi Cathedral

Interior shot of Albi Cathedral

The interior of Albi Cathedral is a stunning contrast with the exterior. Outside it's a massive, plain, forbidding fortress, inside it's lavishly painted, very beautiful and welcoming. The Cathedral was built in brick because much of the countryside around Albi is sandstone, the quantity of building quality limestone required for the Cathedral just wasn't available. It's an amazing achievement to have built this enormous building without the supporting structures of Gothic architecture, and it's also the reason why the Cathedral is so welcoming – the interior is very open and spacious. Had the Cathedral been built in stone, we wouldn't have this glorious paintwork inside.

The painting of the interior was done by Renaissance artists from Italy; the only blue paint available in the Renaissance was made from lapis lazuli and enormously expensive. Imagine crushing gemstones to make paint today. No accounts are publicly available for the costs of the Cathedral, but it wouldn't be a surprise if the paint cost more than the bricks.

The large photo is a detail of the 270-year old organ; the organ was built by Christophe Moucherel, and is the third largest organ in France, and regarded as one of the finest.

Interior shot of Albi Cathedral

The choir is built inside the Cathedral as an entirely separate structure – the second photo shows a detail of the delicate limestone filigree that encloses it. Statues of 33 saints stand in niches at regular intervals around the outside walls of the choir – the Cathedral is famous for its statuary.

The Cathedral is also famous for the quality of its frescoes; the one in the third picture is in one of the alcoves that house tombs of important people of the church or the Albi area. I can't remember what story the fresco tells, but it looks like it could be the martyrdom of one of the saints.

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