Inspect the iconic organ and medieval altar and walk the passageways of one of the largest Romanesque structures in the world.
The Basilique Saint-Sernin is a magnificent 11th-century ecclesiastical treasure of Romanesque design. The church is known for its many historical artifacts, the pink and golden hues of its façade and its tall bell tower. Stand back to take photos of this enormous church from a variety of angles.
Gaze up at the impressive bell tower and admire the Romanesque arches at its base. The spire, which dates from the 1400s, leans at a slight angle. Inspect the intriguing doorways of the Porte des Comtes and the Porte des Miégeville, which are surrounded by elaborate artistic features and carvings.
Enter the church and enjoy the spacious setting of the vast nave. Among the highlights is the altar that was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096. Examine the large three-manual 19th-century organ constructed by famous organ builder Cavaillé-Coll.
Stroll through the nave and notice some of the church’s works of art, such as the bust of Louis of Toulouse and a huge crucifix in front of the colorful stained-glass windows. Read the many informative plaques in several languages that shed light on the history and context behind the church’s main features.
Explore the impressive passageway, known as le déambulatoire (the ambulatory), packed with elegant marble sculptures within the alcoves of the church’s interior walls. Delve into the eerie crypt, where St. Saturnin and St. Honoratus are buried beside the remains of several other significant religious figures. The former was the first bishop of Toulouse who was allegedly killed by being tied to a bull.
There is a fee to enter the ambulatory in the church, which opens daily from morning until evening.
The Basilique Saint-Sernin is a little north of the town center of Toulouse. Ride the metro to the Compans Caffarelli, Jean-Jaurès or Capitole stations and walk here within a few minutes. Make sure to see nearby attractions, such as the University Garden, the Saint-Pierre Square and the Carmelite Chapel.