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About Moissac

Moissac is a busy town in the Tarn et Garonne department, and is a major site on the Pilgrim Way of Saint James, to Santiago de Compostella. It is famous world-wide for the artistic heritage. The foundations of St Martins Church are amongst the oldest in France, possibly the 3rd century. From legend, the ancient Saint-Peter's abbey was founded by Clovis (the Frankish king), but from historical information it was founded by Saint Didier, bishop of Cahors in the middle of the seventh century. The eleventh and twelfth centuries witnessed a first golden age, and Moissac was affiliated to the Burgundy abbey of Cluny under the drive of Durand de Bredons who was both the Abbot of Moissac and the bishop of Toulouse. During this period the doorway and tympanum were built.

The cloister has 116 columns, 76 of which have been sculpted to tell biblical stories. The tympanum is inspired by the Book of Revelations. The fifteenth century witnessed a new golden age with further work to the abbey. The 1626 secularization of the abbey caused the Benedictine monks to leave the cloister after nearly 1000 years of Benedictine life, and in 1790, the French Revolution put an end to religious life. 

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the laying of a railway-track threatened the cloister but at the last minute it was saved and became listed as a historic monument. Even though some buildings have suffered a lot and the abbey has changed, the tympanum, abbey, and cloister (renowned amongst the greatest and the most beautiful cloisters in the world) can still be admired.  

In 1930 severe floods destroyed entire sections of the town, and the ensuing reconstruction greatly altered the towns appearance – the art deco style from this period can be seen amidst the more ancient red brick buildings.