The traditional use of bricks has even been recognized as a local craft in this part of the country since Roman times. The local clay used for their production contains less iron oxide, which is why the bricks have a beautiful pink color instead of the classic red as we all know it. But when the afternoon sun hits them, the whole city takes on a reddish tint.
As you walk around, you’ll notice that some houses are brighter than others. This is due to the fact that chalk was added to the clay in the nineteenth century. This was done because the streets were not sufficiently lit at night and, as is well known, light reflects better from brighter surfaces. Therefore, it was necessary to create a lighter brick.
If you feel like exploring the houses a little closer, look for the signs with the descriptive number. On some of them, the number at the bottom right ends with a dot. This point does not fulfill any aesthetic function, but rather a purely practical one. The engravers used to be often illiterate and this marking was supposed to tell them how to hang the sign correctly.
Uniqueness of Toulouse
France is a treasure trove of historical monuments and uniqueness of all kinds. Toulouse is one of its many treasures. You will find two UNESCO monuments here. The first of these is the Canal du Midi. He also has his nickname. It is called the Channel of the Two Seas because it connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic. The two hundred and forty kilometer long canal is decorated with 63 locks, 126 bridges and 55 aqueducts.
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The dream of a technically very demanding water structure that would connect the two main European bodies of water was already dreamed of by the Roman leaders Charlemagne or Henry IV. The motivation has always been economic reasons as well as an effort to avoid pirates around the Strait of Gibraltar.
It was only possible for Pierre-Paul Riquet, who to King Louis XIV. submitted functional plans. Thanks to them and a host of smart heads and skilled hands, this architectural gem begins in Toulouse. The final stop is the Étang de Thau lagoon on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea.
The second jewel that appears on the list of monuments that everyone wants to belong to is one of the largest Romanesque churches in Europe – the Basilica of St. Saturninus. He has nothing in common with the character of the faithful servant from Zdeňko Jirotka’s humorous book, although he too had a halo over his head at times when he patiently endured Mrs. Kateřina’s whims.
The local Saturninus used to be the first Christian bishop of Toulouse. He was commissioned by the Pope to evangelize Gaul, and this also proved fatal. The pagan priests certainly did not share his enthusiasm for belief in one god. They tied his feet to a bull and let him drag him through the streets of the city until he died. In his honor and because of the manner of his death, today Saint Saturninus is recognized as the patron saint of bullfighters.
Place du Capitole is the main square in Toulouse. It was here that Saint Saturninus was martyred. The square is decorated with the town hall, which at first glance is strikingly similar to Buckingham Palace in London. However, this is not the only peculiarity here.
In Saint-Étienne square, focus on Le Griffoul fountain, the oldest in the city. Here, water gushes from the hands of four angelic boys holding a fish in them. But it wasn’t always like that. There were times when they held their manly pride in it. But the middle of the seventeenth century brought with it a somewhat puritanical mood, and people began to resent it.
Don’t leave the square yet and poke your head into St. Stephen’s Cathedral. You will find that even in the tabernacle you can experience smiling moments. You’ll just have to play detective a little and find a stained glass window depicting Christ with a pair of female breasts. This was not attributed to him by God, but rather by the work of the restorers, sewn with a rather hot needle.
They only eat snails and don’t wash themselves much. The French are victims of many stereotypes
It doesn’t matter if you go east or southwest from the Capitol. In both cases, you will see pure beauty within five minutes. The first direction will take you to house number fifty-nine on rue d’Alsace Lorraine, where you will find a rather unconventional clock with a twenty-four-hour dial.
Two gems await you on the way to the river, St. Peter’s Bridge and the Gothic Jacobin Church. Its architecture even influenced similar buildings throughout southern France. The remains of the famous Italian priest Thomas Aquinas are kept here in a golden reliquary. When you’re here, don’t forget to put your head back properly. Not only from that height, but also from that beauty, you might fall for the sign.
The vaulted ceiling is supported by a massive, nearly thirty-meter column, from which twenty-two ribbed beams emerge. The resulting impression resembles a palm tree, and indeed this architectural wonder is called the Jacobin palm tree. Come here at sunrise or sunset. The rays passing through the stained glass lights conjure up an incredible color show on the opposite walls.
To the skies
The science theme park in Toulouse is called Cité de l’Espace. You will find out here, for example, what life looks like in orbit or what experiments are carried out on the International Space Station (ISS) and how they improve life on Earth. You will also see with your own eyes a rock from the Moon and from Mars.
You will be delighted to walk around the Mir space station, which orbited the Earth for fifteen long years and was the predecessor of the ISS. But you will experience absolute euphoria the moment you try to get into the Soyuz return module, which is used to transport cosmonauts back to earth.
The spaceflight exhibit isn’t the only place you can experience aeronautical adventures. Toulouse is the center of Airbus aircraft production, innovation and technology. In the Aeroscopia aviation museum, you can touch the legendary supersonic commercial plane Concorde, which, including a stopover, flew around the world in less than thirty-two hours. There is also the cargo colossus Super Guppy and the giant Airbus A380.
A historical treat is certainly the replica of the Blériot XI machine, which became famous for the first flight across the English Channel in 1909. If you have never flown first class before, that’s okay. Here you will have the opportunity to experience the luxury of the most expensive airline ticket with your own eyes.
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