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The Basilica of La Daurade: Jewel of Toulouse

Published on , by Mylène Sultan

Built on the banks of the Garonne, the basilica has now been restored to its former glory. A true rebirth, which highlights the virtuosity of its decoration.

© Jacques Sierpinski The Basilica of La Daurade: Jewel of Toulouse

© Jacques Sierpinski

On an evening in October, music lovers came in droves to attend the opening concert of "Toulouse les Orgues" (Toulouse the Organs), given in the basilica of Notre-Dame la Daurade. The festival is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and to celebrate the event as well as the restoration of the church, musical director Yves Rechsteiner presented an outstanding program. The first notes of Puccini's Messa di Gloria rose up in the huge building as the public discovered the recently installed lighting, designed to "structure" the monument, and create a sense of gentle intimacy in the nave, "as impressive as that of St. Peter's in Rome," according to heritage architect Axel Letellier. Filled with the lyricism of the work, few suspected that beneath the Romantic era organ (built in 1861), a trapdoor in the mezzanine was uncovered during the restoration work. This conceals a sophisticated mechanism made of pulleys and windlasses, enabling a vast platform to be installed on the façade of the church. "One of the surprises of the project!" says Laurent Barrenechea, regional curator of the Historical Monuments at the DRAC Occitanie. Knowledge…
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