Apr. 23rd, 2012

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I can't loiter tonight, because it's the Writers' Group.

To Carcassone, just briefly, and a second post dedicated to the Basilica of Saint Nazaire.  I'm featuring the nave tonight, with its magnificent Romanesque architecture.  As I mentioned previously, it had a lucky escape.  It was supposed to get flattened, so that it could be replaced by a Gothic edifice, but the new occupiers of Carcassone, in the post-Albigensian Crusade period, couldn't afford to get rid of it. 

Which left the mason with the problem of trying to tie the two constituent parts - the Romanesque and the Gothic - together.

It's a lovely building, very tall and lofty, with aisles at either side.  From what I saw of the area's ecclesiastical churches, aisled churches seem to be quite unusual in this part of the world.  Instead, the church architecture has a very solid and bulky character, featuring a series of side chapels which take the form of arched recesses. But in other respects, the building shows stylistic details which are typical of the area.  According to my helpful handout, 'The Romanesque nave adopts a disposition frequently observed in churches of the Bas-Languedoc: Barrel vaulting with doubled arches (nave) and barrel vaulting again for the especually narrow side aisles.' 

Sadly, I don't have a reference for this document, which is a shame, because it's a very helpful little document which really does a good job in identifying the architectural nuances of the area.

Here's another view of the nave, showing the narrow aisles with the barrel-vaulted ceilings and the double arched ribs.  After having read Fawcett's interpretations of solid columns versus bundled shaft columns in terms of dating (the solid columns predating the bundled shafts) I'm not sure what to make of this one, which alternates solid columns with bundled shaft.  Ah, well.  There's always got to be an exception to the rule, hasn't there?  I particularly like the way the pilasters alternate between full length pilasters on the bundled shaft columns, and much shorter pilasters on the upper parts of the solid columns:-

 And that's it for the evening, I'm afraid.  I shall, of course, be back tomorrow... 


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