The Monster of Lagrasse and the Master of Cabestany

Warning:

This post contains a terrifying monster, a sinister medieval abbey and a helpless French village. Delicate readers must get away from here a.s.a.p.

My brute, insusceptible, truculent and loyal bunch of digital friends can continue reading.

Get ready.

The monster is here …

Master of Cabestany

Those two malevolent eyes, the open jaws with fearsome-looking teeth, the human hand that clutches the fur on the crown of the head, the whole hair-raising and marvelous monster that you can see in the pic above was sculpted by the Master of Cabestany.

As my loyal readers may well know, the Master of Cabestany was a legendary sculptor from the Romanesque period (he was active during the second half of the 12th century) that worked intensively in the same geographical area that I Covetotop (blogger active in the first half of the 21st century) cover on this blog:

Cabestany MapApart from this fact, I have always felt a mysterious, difficult to explain, almost mystical bond with this errant medieval creator … Accordingly, I have blogged about his works in previous posts.

Cabestany works

This time I have followed the Master’s footprints up to the Abbey of Sainte Marie d’Orbieu, Lagrasse, in Languedoc, Aude department, near the Corbières massif, Southern France. Its origins date to the 7th century.

Abbey patio

The Abbey interiors are very deteriorated today.

Lagrasse

The monks slept in this immense bedroom:

Giant bedroom

This is a chapel:

Chapel Lagrasse

At the heart of the abbey there is an exhibition room devoted to the Master of Cabestany:

Maitre de Cabestany

The monster, and a few other pieces made by his hand for this abbey, rest in that room …

Master Aude

If the abbey interiors may seem a little sinister, the building, viewed from the distance, is amazing:

Abbey in Lagrasse

Don’t you think so?

Saint Mary at Lagrasse

The abbey of Lagrasse is connected with the village of Lagrasse by a medieval bridge (“Pont Vieux”) built in 1303. It crosses the Orbieu River.

Pont Vieux

The kids of Lagrasse swim in said river. Apparently, they are not afraid of the Monster that lives within the walls of the neighboring abbey …

Orbieu river

It is a wonderful river in a wonderful valley …

River in Lagrasse

The Monster sculpted by the Master of Cabestany is not the only monster that lives in Lagrasse. As a matter of fact, you’ll find terrible monsters everywhere in this medieval village.

You’ll find them in the streets …

Monster in Lagrasse 1

You’ll find them leaning out of the windows …

Cat by the window

You’ll find them just over your head …

Les trois graces

Lagrasse is certainly a village full of mystery and beauty …

Medieval street at Lagrasse

Narrow Street in LagrasseLagrasse street 2

Lagrasse church

Medieval shoemaker

French wines Lagrasse

Medieval house Lagrasse

Lagrasse School

The Cathars

Lagrasse door

It is no wonder that Lagrasse has been included in the official list of “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (The Most Beautiful Villages of France)

Boucherie at Lagrasse

If you are still alive in Lagrasse at lunch time (because no beast has devoured you previously), then you have a good choice of restaurants to feed yourself …

La Petite Maison

Lagrasse restaurants

Lagrasse is located in the historical Cathar Country, a territory full of castles, monasteries, nice villages, enormous wineries, good restaurants (including one of the best of France, the 3-Michelin-stars rated “Auberge du Vieux Puits”) and immortal legends (like that of the Cathars and the Holy Grail). Some people even say that there is an alien-space-base hidden in one of its mountains, named Bugarach

Aude MapWho knows? Anyway, the Cathar Country and its myriad of legends are a must for fearless explorers like Covetotop.

Beware of the monster and … Au revoir!

Post Scriptum:

Very close to Lagrasse is the not-to-be-missed Abbey of Fontfroide. I have blogged about this marvel in “The Fontfroide Abbey (Southern France)

Fontfroide

I have blogged previously about the Master of Cabestany in the following posts:

1. Following the steps of the “Master of Cabestany”: Cabestany village (Southern France)

2. Following the steps of the “Master of Cabestany”: The sarcophagus of Saint Sernin (Saint Hilaire Abbey, Southern France)

3. Following the steps of the “Master of Cabestany”: The Monastery of Sant Pere de Rodes (Alt Empordà, Catalonia, Spain)

4. Picasso, Manolo and the Master of Cabestany. Céret and Le Boulou

For those living in or visiting the Costa Brava, the Cathar Country offers a myriad of interesting one-day-excursions. It is less than a half an hour drive from La Jonquera (Spain/France border). Of course, you can drive for hours through this legendary territory always discovering new amazing places.

More info about Lagrasse in: http://www.lagrasse.com/

(Final clarification note: This blog is not sponsored by the Cathars, the Templars, the monks, or the monsters featured on it. It is neither sponsored by the President of France nor by the King of Spain. Covetotop’s recommendations are always free, and they are exclusively based on his weird, eccentric and personal taste)

 

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About Covetotop

A Mediterranean blogger
This entry was posted in Art, Towns & Villages and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to The Monster of Lagrasse and the Master of Cabestany

  1. A great relief that you have not sold out to commerce or influence….

  2. harri8here says:

    C2T, I’m certain your final clarification note is valid … but I sense the fiery breath of The Monster singeing the fine hairs on the back of your neck, the drooling from his cavernously open jaws soaking your shirt, and the nails of his long, pale, chilly fingers stroking your shoulder like the claws of a slightly ravenous leopard. So brave, eccentric friend, I feel you may have been under some pressure when you evoked the beauty and charm of Lagrasse with this particularly gorgeous set of photographs.

    • Covetotop says:

      Psssshhh … The Monster is still here … and he is asking me just now: “Who’s that charming HR8, you poor and weak human blogger?” … “Answer my question or I’ll bite your head off!” … I don’t know how long will I resist … Just in case I give up, lock the door and close the windows!

  3. Wonderful, and fascinating, and beautiful, as always. I love the chapel, the river, the old bridge, And most of all that simple but lovely, (and rather kindly looking) carved figure of Christ, with the large, large hand, raised in benediction.

    • Covetotop says:

      That figure of Christ is certainly a masterpiece. It is part of a tympanum, shown in the parish church of Cabestany village (although I took the pic above in the abbey of Lagrasse; the figure was a copy of the original Christ of the tympanum of Cabestany). This figure comprises the main characteristics of the Master’s works: narrow forehead, almond-shaped eyes, huge hands and above all, originality and outstanding craftmanship. Thanks for your -as always- kind comment and “decoding” eye, Arran!

  4. a ferreira says:

    Well, I have to admit I quite like Covetotop’s weird, eccentric and personal taste! Even if it makes me one brute, insusceptible, truculent and loyal digital friend… 😉
    The abbey is amazing really, doesn’t look sinister at all, and the monsters are just perfect, each one in its very own style.
    What is there in these villages that make them so full of mystery and beauty? Like time has stopped and all the legends are awainting for us around the corner!
    Your whole series about the Master of Cabestany is so very interesting, his sculpture is absolutely captivating and the places are fascinating! 🙂

  5. Linda Duffin says:

    What a beautiful place and what stunning interiors. Thanks for showing it to us – I’ll put that on my list for a visit next time we’re driving through France en route to Catalunya.

    • Covetotop says:

      Lagrasse is beautiful, and very little. It is a wonderful stop, but take into account that it is a little far away from the main routes … But if you have the time to visit it, you won’t be dissapointed. Bon voyage, Linda!

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