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Toulouse City Hall called The Capitole is one of the finest city halls of France.
It present frontage dates from the second half of the 18th century and was designed by architect Guillaume Cammas.
The Capitole has an interior court called Court Henri IV that is overlooked by the white, black and green marble statue of King Henri IV placed there in 1607. It was in the interior courtyard that on 30th of October 1630, Henri II, Duke de Montmorency (and Viceroy of Canada called at the time New France) an enemy of Cardinal de Richelieu was beheaded.
The interior of the Capitole is beautifully decorated with paintings dating from between the second half of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century.
The history of the Toulouse Capitole starts in 1190.
On the 6th of January 1189 the Count of Toulouse Raimond V faced with a popular revolt is forced to give municipal autonomy to the 12 capitouls that were forming since 1147 (when they were initially only 8) the city’s administrative body called "Council of the City and Suburbs". The Count is left only with the right to mint the city’s currency and to raise troops if the interests of Toulouse are directly threatened.
The capitouls, dignitaries dressed in black and red (the colors displayed now in their memory by the Rugby team of Toulouse!) were elected each year at the end of November from each district of Toulouse.
This administrative organization unique to the city of Toulouse will remain in place until the French revolution.
In 1190 the capitouls buy some land and a house adjacent to an old tower called "Tower Charlemagne" and in 1202 the tower itself. The house and the tower are first structures that will become later The Capitole.
Nothing is left from these old buildings.
The older part that can be still seen is the Donjon that houses now the Tourist Office and that was built between 1525 and 1530 as a fortified place - its walls are up to 3 meters thick - for protection against a possible Spanish invasion. The second oldest parts that can be still admired are the galleries surrounding The Court Henri IV, built between 16th and 17th century from the plans of the architect Pierre Souffron. The capitouls ask and are given permission by King Henri IV himself to place his statue, work of the sculptor Thomas Heurtmatte, were it stands to this day.
The initial "Salle des Illustres" was created in 1674 after the capitoul Germain Lafaille has the idea of building a hall to celebrate 30 people who marked the history of France and Toulouse. The "Salle des Illustres" was redesigned at the end 19th century by architect and decorator Paul Pujol.
In 1727 the architect Guillaume Camas is charged with the task of designing a new frontage. The building of the new face - the Capitole façade to this day - takes place between 1750 and 1760.
The Capitole is free to visit every week day.