Martres-Tolosane – Its History, Its Craft

Martres-Tolosane is a little town – population just over 2000 – 60km south west of Toulouse.
The town is famous for its ancient roman villa called Chiragan – an immense Roman edifice of 13 hectares (!!!) – and its pottery – the town’s traditional craft since the 18th century.
Built on three terraces facing Garonne River in the first century AD, Villa Chiragan was according to some archeologists the second biggest Roman structure after villa Hadriana (120 hectares). It was discovered in the 17th century and extended archeological excavations performed in the late 19th century brought to light numerous marble sculptures that are now in display at Saint Raymond museum of Toulouse.
Moving to more recent times, since three centuries now, Martres-Tolosane has become famous for its pottery.
The craft was brought in the town in 1739 by Joseph Delondre, a painter ceramist from Bordeaux, who produced here the first ceramic object with blue and white decoration that established a new “Martres” ceramics style.
To celebrate the ceramics tradition, each year the Tourist Office of Martres-Tolosane organizes at the end of October and beginning of November a pottery, glass, metal and mosaic work exhibition called “Salon des Arts et du Feu”. It is an opportunity to admire (and acquire if one wishes) the work of not only local but also regional craftsmen and craftswomen.
Here are some images from the 2012 edition (along with some pictures of the ancient sculptures discovered on Chiragan site) .

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