The Three Faces of God: Treasures of Narbonne Cathedral

The Cathedral Treasury, Le Tresor de la Cathedrale, Narbonne, France

When visiting the beautiful cathedral of Narbonne and the museums in the adjacent palaces, you can also enter the tiny Treasury museum.  What it lacks in size, it makes up for in the quality of a couple of items which almost make the town worth visiting by themselves.

The Treasury is located on the first floor of the Annonciade Chapel and as you go up the stairs, you get an interesting view down into the chapel.  The museum is in the old Chapter Room, constructed in the 15th century, and boasting a vaulted brick ceiling which is its main claim to fame –  a person standing in one corner of the room (by the fan-like section lit up in the picture below) can speak very quietly, and be heard very clearly in the opposite corner.  The magic is that no one in the middle of the room hears a thing, naturally.  It didn’t work for me, so presumably you have to pitch your whisper just right and some kids were having a whale of a time with it, so that can keep them quiet as you look at the objects on show.

Apart from that, there are some very interesting objects on show, which most visitors seemed to ignore when we visited…   Still, Sister-Chickpea and I appreciated this little collection and hopefully you will too.

The most magnificent item on show, however, is the 15th century Flemish tapestry of the ‘Creation of the World’.  Originally it was part of a 10-piece set which decorated the cathedral, but all the others in the series were destroyed during the French Revolution.  This is a real tragedy, because this was one of the most beautiful tapestries I’ve ever seen.  The faces are woven with such delicacy they look painted, and the composition looks like it’s been lifted from an adorable Flemish altarpiece.  My pictures don’t remotely do justice to its quality of design and workmanship – it was just wonderful.

So In Summary

The highlight of the collection is the tapestry, but there are other impressive items to admire.  Most people came in and went out again pretty sharpish.  Well, the objects are liturgical, and there isn’t a lot there, but I found it worthwhile.  It’s a personal thing.  Since it’s included on the Narbonne Monuments Pass, you should at least pop in – if only to say hi to your travelling companions via the walls.

Further Information

There is a fee to enter the museum, but there is a pass available which gets you into all the museums of Narbonne.

There isn’t a website for the treasury, but there is some information in French only available about places to visit in Narbonne, with some downloadable pdfs: www.webmuseo.com

How to Get There

The walk from the train station to the centre of town is pretty straightforward, but if you want information about buses, this is the official site with Google-translate English, or just pretty basic French: www.citibus.fr

To get to Narbonne by train from Spain or elsewhere on France’s south coast, check out the excellent national site in English: www.sncf.com

 

 

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