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Les Jacobins

UNESCO Heritage List

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The Jacobin Convent - "Les Jacobins" - is an Occitan gothic architecture jewel.
The convent was built in stages during the 13th and the 14th centuries by Dominican monks.
The first church of the monastery 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 creeds.
It is here that the first University of Toulouse was founded in 1229 by the Dominican monks.
Due to the popularity of the Dominican preachers - who with their dialogs and discussions played an important role during the crusade against the Cathars - the church became rapidly too small to accommodate the big number of believers coming inside for the religious services. For this reason the church was enlarged between 1245 and 1252.
Towards the end of the 13th century the architectural requirements of the Dominican Order were relaxed and the monks decided to build a new higher chancel and a bell tower.
The higher structure required the usage of a new technique of ribbed vaults ceiling supported by big columns; the column closest to the bell tower due to its position and charge is a mighty pillar 1.5 meters in diameter that holds up the upper structure via 22 ogival vaults that give the image of a "Palm Tree".
In 1298 the bell tower was finished and by the early 1330s the nave of the church was totally rebuilt.
The next step in enhancing the status of the convent was to bring the holly relics of known saint. With Pope's Urban V 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 arrived in Toulouse on the 28th of January 1369 - day celebrated even nowadays - and the chest with the holly remains of Saint Thomas d'Aquin can still be seen in the center of the church.
Between the middle of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century the monastery was added its cloister - a meditation and prayers space - built next to the church between 1251 - 1310, the monks dinning room - the refectory - built in 1303 and the assembly room - the chapterhouse - built between 1299 and 1301.
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 peaceful place for visitors and home to many cultural events including classical music concerts.

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Visiting Hours:Open daily from 9 am. to 7pm (including Sundays and holidays).


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