Toulouse (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. The main sights of Toulouse with descriptions, guides and maps.
The city of Toulouse (France).
Toulouse is a city in the south of France and the capital of the Occitania region. It is located in the heart of the French southwest near the Pyrenees, halfway between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Toulouse is one of the most beautiful cities in France, with interesting brick architecture, rich history, sunny climate, friendly and relaxed atmosphere. La Ville Rose (translates as “the pink city”) is the name of Toulouse because of the terracotta bricks, of which many old buildings of the historic center were built.
Toulouse was founded on the site of an ancient Roman settlement. In the Middle Ages it was a popular pilgrimage site and religious center of southern France. Saint-Sernin Basilica was one of the stops on the route of St. James and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Toulouse is now an important scientific, industrial and cultural center of the country.
Things to do (France):
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Geography and climate
Toulouse is located on the banks of the Garron river, 680 km from Paris. The old city occupies the right bank and the suburb of Saint-Siprien on the left. The climate is subtropical (Mediterranean). Characterized by hot summers and mild winters.
The Garrona River in Toulouse
- Population – more than 470 thousand people.
- Area – 118.3 km2 .
- Language is French.
- Currency – euros.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – UTC +1, in summer +2.
- The international airport of Blagnac is 11 km from Toulouse, which connects it with some major European cities.
- Toulouse has excellent transport links with Paris, Barcelona, Bordeaux and Marseille.
- The city is famous for its excellent gastronomy. The most famous local dishes are duck, Saucisse de Toulouse (fried spicy sausages) and Cassoulet (stewed meat with beans and greens).
- Toulouse is a very safe city. It’s enough to stick to basic safety rules and keep an eye on your belongings in crowded places.
Toulouse has a history of over two thousand years and it is one of the oldest cities in France. The Gallic settlement of Toulouse dates back to the pre-Roman times and was conquered by the Romans in 106 BC. Since the 4th century AD, Toulouse is the seat of the bishop. From 419 to 507 it was the capital of the kingdom of the Visigoths. At the beginning of the 6th century the Franks conquered Toulouse.
The streets of Toulouse
Toulouse was the center of the Aquitaine kingdom. It was besieged by the Saracens in 721 but held out. From the second half of the 8th century, Toulouse was the seat of the Counts of Toulouse, who controlled nearly the entire south of France. During the Middle Ages, the city flourished and was an important pilgrimage center because it was on the religious route of St. James.
In 1214, the Dominican order was founded here. In 1217-1218, Toulouse was besieged and taken by the Crusaders. In 1229, the University of Toulouse was founded. In 1271, Toulouse became part of the Kingdom of France and the center of the province of Languedoc.
In the 16th century (during the Huguenot Wars), Toulouse was a stronghold of Catholics. Later, the city’s importance declined. That all changed relatively recently. In the 20th century, Toulouse became the center of the French aircraft industry, and Charles de Gaulle commissioned the National Center for Space Research to be located here. This helped boost the economy and population growth.
Saint-Sernin is an ancient Romanesque basilica and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of the most beautiful churches on the medieval religious route of St. James in Santiago de Compostela. Saint-Sernin was built between the 11th and 13th centuries in red brick, typical of the architecture of Toulouse.
The building has a five-nave structure and a three-nave transept in the Romanesque style. The basilica is dedicated to St. Saturn (Sernen), who was martyred in Patras, Greece. His tomb is located in the apse. The interesting features of Saint-Sernin include a magnificent Romanesque façade, a portal with sculptures, a beautiful 17th-century choir, a huge carved Romanesque crucifix in the northern transept, 11th-century marble reliefs and a crypt with religious relics.
The Dominican Monastery is a fine example of Southern Gothic architecture. It was founded in the 13th century and was built entirely of red brick. The tower of the monastery church resembles the architecture of the tower of Saint-Sernin. The monastery has an austere exterior and exquisite interior architecture. The chapel of St. Anthony is decorated with paintings of the 16th century. There are also the relics of St. Thomas Aquinas.
Capitol Square is the lively center of Toulouse and has exquisite classical architecture. On the west side of the square you can see the beautiful arcades. On the east side is the famous 18th century Capitol building with its impressive halls. Behind the square is an ancient 16th-century defensive tower, and to the south are the charming streets of the old town.
St. Etienne is a cathedral that has been under construction for several centuries, and features several architectural styles. The first church on the site was built in the late 12th century in the southern Gothic style. Later, the cathedral was rebuilt in the North Gothic style to rival the magnificent cathedrals of Northern Europe. The structure of the church is highlighted by a massive tower, a huge rose window with stained glass, and intricate decorative elements of the facade. Inside, you can view 17 chapels and beautiful tapestries from the 16th and 18th centuries.
The Carmelite Chapel is a small religious building with magnificent murals inspired by the Sistine Chapel. The chapel was built in the 17th century and was part of a Carmelite monastery that was destroyed during the French Revolution.
Canal du Midi
The Canal du Midi is a waterworks structure of 240 km long built in the 17th century linking the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Here you can enjoy a leisurely stroll and a relaxing atmosphere.
St. Joseph’s Chapel
St. Joseph’s Chapel is a beautiful 17th-century chapel that is the main attraction of St. Cyprien. It was once part of a medieval hospital that housed victims of the plague.
Notre-Dame-du-Taur is an ancient church with an unusual bell tower. It is built of pink bricks in the Southern Gothic style. According to legend, the church stands on the spot where the body of the first bishop of Toulouse, Cernin, fell, who was killed by the Romans and tied to a bull, letting the animal loose on the city.
Church of Saint Pierre
The Church of Saint Pierre is a 17th-century religious edifice built by Cartesian monks. The church is decorated with magnificent 18th-century sculpture, frescoes and stucco bas-reliefs.
Notre-Dame de la Dalbade
Notre-Dame de la Dalbade is an ancient church with a very beautiful portal, located in the heart of the Carmes quarter. The history of the church goes back to the 6th century. The building was completely rebuilt in the 15th century after a fire. The church had the tallest bell tower in the city until it collapsed in 1926.
Ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre
The ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre are the only ancient monument in Toulouse. The amphitheater was built by the Romans in the 1st century AD and was used for gladiatorial fights until the end of the 4th century.
Notre Dame de la Daur
Notre Dame de la Daur is an imposing basilica located on the banks of the Garrona. It was erected in the 5th century on the ruins of a Roman temple. In the 9th century it became part of the Benedictine monastery. The old church was demolished in the 18th century and completely rebuilt.
The donjon is a 16th-century gunpowder tower topped by a bell tower in the style of Flemish architecture.
- Museum of Fine Arts, located in the former Augustinian monastery. Showcases a collection of paintings and sculptures. The collection of paintings includes works by artists from the Renaissance to the 20th century, including masterpieces by Perugino and Rubens. The sculpture collection spans the Romanesque period to the modern era. Among the sculptures, the most impressive are magnificent works from the late Middle Ages.
- The Museum of Fine and Decorative Arts (Bemberg Foundation), located in an extravagant 16th-century mansion. Here you can look at paintings, bronze sculptures and other works of art. The highlight of the painting collection are works from the Renaissance and modern French school, including paintings by Monet and Boudin.
- The Archaeological Museum (Saint Raymond) is a remarkable collection of archaeological finds and antiquities. The museum is located in a medieval university building. The highlight of the collection is a gallery of Roman sculptures.
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The 19 best sights of Toulouse – description, photos, map
The first walk through the historic center of the city will reveal to you the main sights of Toulouse . You will see the Capitol and its square, the Toulouse City Hall and the medieval tower, several famous churches, a museum, a monastery and even a crypt.
- Start of the route: metro station Capitole.
- Duration: 2.2 km
- Approximate time: half a day
Route through Toulouse: Points of interest.
The main sights of Toulouse along this route are:
1. donjon du capitole
Donjon du Capitole.
Built in the 16th century, this fortified-looking building used to serve as the city archives and was used for city meetings. The donjon is surmounted by a crenellated rampart and framed by four clock towers. The bell tower was added in the 19th century by the architect Viollet-le-Duc. The tower now houses the tourist office of Toulouse.
The City Hall of Toulouse is organized around the courtyard of Henry IV, adorned with a statue of this French king. The official reception rooms of the town hall are decorated with 19th century paintings and sculptures illustrating some famous personalities and events that played a significant role in the history of Toulouse. The main facade of the building overlooking the Piazza was decorated in a neo-classical style in the 18th century with alternating brick and stone.
Eglise Notre Dame du Taur
The name of this church recalls the martyrdom of St. Saturninus, the first bishop of Toulouse, who was dragged through the streets tied to bulls. The church is notable for its unique bell tower wall, with a triangular arch and turrets above the street.
4. Chapelle des Carmelites
Chapel of the Carmelites
This chapel is all that remains of the Carmelite convent. It was built in the 17th century and is decorated with paintings of the vaulted ceiling and walls. Most of these paintings are the work of the 17th-century artist Jean-Pierre Rivalz. His follower, Jean-Baptiste Despas, completed his work, which became one of Toulouse’s masterpieces.
5. Musee Saint-Raymond
Located in a 16th-century building of a former high school, the Musee Saint-Raymond is dedicated to antiquity. It displays a large archaeological collection including over 1,000 objects relating to the everyday life of Celtic tribes and ancient Romans in the region of Toulouse. The museum was founded in 1891.
- Opening hours: daily 10 – 18.
- Entrance: 4 €.
- Free for under 18s and students.
- Address: 1Ter Place Saint-Sernin, 31000 Toulouse, France
6. Basilique St-Sernin
The Basilique St. Saturnin (or Sermin) is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the major stopping points on the pilgrimage route of St. James to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The basilica was built between the 11th and 14th centuries and is one of the largest Romanesque churches in Europe. It is notable for its massive architecture and richly sculpted decoration.
According to the Passio Saturnini (Martyrdom of Saturninus) by an unknown fifth-century author, Saturninus came to Toulouse from the East and founded the first diocese here. Saturninus provoked the wrath of the pagans by refusing to offer sacrifice to Jupiter of Capitol. As a result, the bishop was condemned and executed by being torn by two bulls. This execution was described in the thirteenth century in James of Voraginus’ book The Golden Legend. The remains of Saturninus, buried by Christians, were discovered in the sixth century and transferred to a basilica in Toulouse named after him.
These remains became the cause of pilgrimages to the church. They are displayed along the ambulatory path and in a two-level crypt.
7. Cloitre St-Pierre des Chartreux
The Cloitre and the Church of Saint-Pierre
The church, along with the remains of a large cloister, was part of a Carthusian monastery built in the 17th and 18th centuries. Here you can see an outstanding combination of Baroque and Neo-Classical paintings and sculptures.
8. Eglise St-Pierre des Cuisines
Originally located outside the city, this 4th-century building served as a funerary basilica, as evidenced by the sarcophagi and burial chambers that can still be seen in the church. The church itself (11th – 16th c.) – now serves as an auditorium dedicated to dance and music.
9. Convent des Jacobins
Monastery of the Jacobins
This former Dominican monastery dates from the 13th to 14th centuries. It is an imposing brick building typical of the Southern French Gothic style. The interior of the church is divided into two naves and is remarkable for its combination of colors (paintings and stained-glass windows) and the ribbed vault of the ceiling, the most famous part of which is known as the “palm tree”. The cloister and monastery buildings form a beautiful architectural ensemble.
10. Hotel de Bernuy
The Bernuy private mansion
The Bernuy was built in the first half of the 16th century by a trader of vajda, the plant from which the blue dye was obtained in Europe. From the street you can admire the high stair tower, evidence of the owner’s successful business. Access to the building only with guided tours.