Les gargouilles de la Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne


Les gargouilles de la Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse, Carcassonne

The Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celsus is an imposing building situated within the walls of Carcassonne old town  It was formerly the cathedral of Carcassonne until 1801, when it was replaced by the present Carcassonne Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Michel de Carcassonne). It is a grand Gothic building with a large tower and enormous Bishop’s eye built into the west wall. The most notable aspects of this cathedral for me however were the plethora of carvings which adorned both the outside and interior of the church. Built so long ago in more superstitious times when memories of a pre-Christian era had not yet faded and the exterior is covered with grotesque figures employed in strange activities. As with many of the early French churches they acknowledged the pre-Christian religions in their architectural design through elaborate carvings.

The grotesques and gargoyles of this building are something to be appreciated and marvelled at. I got some what carried away shooting them but here are a selection of the images I produced.

Carcassonne 2011

My first trip away this year was in January, to Carcassonne, France. I had decided that I could not feasibly take any more photographs of Liverpool and needed to book flights, and I had always wanted to see Carcassonne.

I was talking with my sister about the trip and she reminded me that our aunt had a panoramic photograph of Carcassonne on her living room wall when I was young, which I would have seen on one of our family trips to Holland when I was a child, which is where she lived. It amazed me how deeply rooted our desires are and how much our childhood dictates to our adult life, even without our awareness; I was oblivious to the origin of my wish to see Carcassonne when planning the trip. I must have seen this image of Carcassonne when I was about eight; had generated the desire to see it and then filed it under ‘must see one day’ – and then forgot it. Carcassonne became the second location on my bucket list of places to see and photograph.

Carcassonne did not disappoint any. The old city is a medieval concentric castle and the terms ‘mystical’ or ‘fairytale’ are worthy descriptions of this picturesque town. A concentric castle is one with walls that surround a central keep in concentric rings and which in turn are surrounded by a moat. The streets are cobbled and the interior of the town has a market square with innumerable restaurants and bars that cater to thousands of tourists from all over the world, in the summer months. In January however the story is very different and the streets were deserted making for excellent photography. Carcassonne is quite near the Pyrenees and in the Languedoc region of France. The temperature was -2, when I arrived but the skies where clear for almost the whole time. This is a selection of the images I took.