Saint Pierre Abbey in Moissac, France.

© Anibal Trejo/Shutterstock

Abbaye St-Pierre


Rosy brick characteristic of the Toulouse area heightens the majesty of this abbey and its exceptional Romanesque cloister. Awarded Unesco World Heritage status in part for its significance along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, the abbey contains some compelling religious art, in particular a striking frieze of St John's vision of the apocalypse above the elaborate south portal. The cloister was completed in 1100, followed a few years later by the Tour-Porche bell tower.

The cloister is worth scrutinising on account of the carved capitals topping its slender stone columns: many of them depict biblical scenes in tender detail, such as Samuel pouring holy oil over a kneeling David, as well as animals and plant motifs. Inside the bell tower, look for faint initials carved into the stone – graffiti by the original stone masons.

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