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Basilique St-Julien, Brioude


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Brioude's Basilique St-Julien is the largest Romanesque church in the Auvergne.  It was built in the 10 - 1100s to house the tomb of Roman soldier martyr St-Julien and the large number of pilgrims this attracted, with the nave roof vaulting added a century or so later.  It's a warm feeling, well proportioned and interesting space - perhaps made more so by its bleak featureless external surroundings and the gloomy nothingness of the le Puy Cathedral to the south - and it's packed with fine Romanesque capital and fresco art.




Basilique St-Julien nave, looking east



La Chapelle St-Michel




Keystone to the arch under La Chapelle St-Michel leading from the church to the narthex.


Commentary on this and other interesting capitals in the Basilica St-Julien by Anthony Weir


Many many more really good photos at has a good set of photos of the frescos and some capitals




Detail from a Last Judgement fresco in the Chapelle St-Michel, from "The Roads to Santiago" published by MSM


Link to Paradoxplace French Medieval Pilgrims' Roads



Our original reason for going to the Basilique St-Julien was to see the frescoed Chapelle St-Michel, having had our appetite whetted by the detail pictured above right. 


Alas the chapel is on the southern part of a large high Spanish style gallery at the west end of the church, and the door to the stairs was locked with a notice that the chapel was "actuellment fermee aux visites" - though more optimistically it went on to say that actuellment  la cle could be obtained from the office of tourism. 


Sadly, being a Sunday afternoon (the time one would most expect visitors), the office of tourism - along with what little else lives around the church -  was very definitely not open for business.   Here are some glimpses of what might have been, seen from the south aisle looking up westwards into the chapel ...



The column ensemble is a fascinating example of the good side of what we have termed western French church "decorator art" - a mixture of clever abstract designs, painted figures and a capital with winged loin-clothed acrobats.  And at the base, painted curtains (why?).










Some Capitals





Awestruck soldiers - "Take a look at this"





Four Sirens, Two Capitals


Link to more Mermaids




Many many more really good photos at



And, of course, there are the painted columns ......











St-Julien tomb relic



And outside, a merman ......





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