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One of the gates of Cordes-sur-Ciel


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One of the gates of Cordes-sur-Ciel

Early in the morning, especially in autumn, intense fog covers the Cérou valley in a diaphanous veil. Only the top of the medieval city emerges from the sea of ​​clouds. Glowing from the light of the rising sun, the silhouette of the cite appears to float skywards, beyond the clouds. This is the origin of Cordes sur Ciel – Cordes in the sky.


Situated over a hundred meters above the valley of the Cérou and its tributary the Aurosse.

The fortified town was built in 1222 by Raimon VII, the Count of Toulouse, who, though not a Cathar himself, tolerated the heresy.

In 1222, Cordes received its charter to become a "bastide" from the Count of Toulouse. It is generally considered to be the first of the bastides of SW france. Bastides were "new towns" originally conceived to resettle and pacify people caught up in the Albigensian Crusade. Though not fortified, bastides were often built in defensible locations. It was built between 1222 and 1229 to protect the scattered population of the area from conflict. It was made to replace the village of Saint-Marcel, which was burnt down by the troops of Simon de Montfort in 1215, during the Northern Baron's crusade against the Albigensians.

During the heyday of the city (1280-1350) sumptuous Gothic houses, for which Cordes is now famous, were built by noble families and wealthy merchants.

From 1562 to 1625, wars of religion caused ongoing disturbances.

The walled city, regarded as the stronghold of the Albigensians, became a favourite of the Huguenots.

The, epidemics of plague in the fourteenth century reduced the population of the city and by the end of the seventeenth century, the construction of the Canal du Midi reduced trade and commerce, and the population fell to 2,500 inhabitants.


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Taken on September 8, 2011