UNESCO Heritage List
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The Jacobin Convent - Les Jacobins - is a jewel of Occitan gothic architecture.
It was built in stages throughout the 13th and the 14th century by Dominican monks. The first building was erected between 1229 and 1234. It was a humble structure 46 meters long, 22 meters wide and only 13 meters high, in accordance with the Order’s modest living preaching.
Due to the popularity of the Dominican preachers - who play also an important role in bringing into the fold of the Catholic Church the Cathar heretics - the church becomes too small to accommodate the believers who come to pray inside. The church is enlarged between 1245 and 1252.
Towards the end of the 13th century the architectural requirements of the Dominican order are relaxed and monks decide to build a new higher chancel and a bell tower.
To accommodate the new construction the architects decide to build the pillars to sustain it. All of the pillars with one exception are holding the ceiling via 15 beautifully tinted cantilevers. The one closer to the bell tower due to its position and charge is the "Palm Tree", a mighty pilar 1.5 meters in diameter and holds up the structure with 22 cantilevers.
In 1298 the bell tower is finished and in the early 1330s the nave of the church is totally rebuilt.
The next step in enhancing the status of the church was to bring the holly relics of known saint. With Pope’s Gregory XII support the decision was taken to bring the relics of Saint Thomas d’Aquin a famous Dominican monk who died in 1274 and whose remains were in Italy.
The relics arrive in Toulouse in 1369 and the chest with the holly remains of Saint Thomas d’Aquin can still be seen in the center of the church (between the French Revolution and 1974 they were transferred to Saint Sernin Cathedral).
From the beginning of the 14th century dates also the building of the cloister.
The monks dinning room is now an exhibition hall and the assembly room while in a restoration process still displays beautiful but faded mural paintings.
The name "Jacobins" comes from the name of the street in Paris "rue de Saint Jacques" where there was located the "head quarter" convent of Dominican order, hence the Dominican monks were also called the Jacobins.
600 hundred years after the creation of the Dominican order there was to be another group of "citizens"meeting in the former Jacobin convent in Paris. This is the famous Club des Jacobins of the French Revolution and whose members included among others Joseph Ignace Guillotin.
Nowadays the Jacobins complex is an interesting peacefull place - free to visit - home to many cultural events including classical music concerts.