Grands Sites des Midi-Pyrénées, Plus Beaux Villages de France
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The little town of Saint Lizier in the department of Ariège, region Midi-Pyrenees is listes as one of the most beautiful villages of France ("Plus beaux villages de France") as a major site of the region ("Grands sites de Midi-Pyrénées") and has its ancient church listed in the UNESCO's World Heritage along with all the other sites and monuments on the road to Saint James de Compostella.
This outstanding little town - population 17,000 - is situated at the feet of the Pyrenean Mountains in the picturesque valleys of Couserans. Its name, Saint Lizier, comes from the name of the second bishop of the region who lived in the 6 century AD and who after sanctification became Saint Lizier.
The town major attractions are the old UNESCO listed church and the Episcopal Palace and its Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède cathedral.
The old church and its Romanesque cloister were built starting in the 11th century.
The Episcopal Palace and its nearby cathedral are located on the highest point of the village overlooking the nearby valleys.
This building complex surrounded by a fortified wall - some parts of which date from the 5th century AD - was built mainly between the 11th and the 15th century. It was the seat of the Couserans Bishoprics until 1801. After the French revolution it was transformed into a psychiatric hospital that lasted there until 1968.
Today the Episcopal Palace hosts Ariège department museum.
The Notre Dame de la Sède cathedral adjacent to the Palace features outstanding frescoes dating from the 15th century that represent 24 characters: 12 men representing 12 Patriarchs and 12 women representing 12 Sibylles, personages inspired from old Jewish religious books.