In a nearby village here in the Gers is a church that would not be out of place in north Africa. It has six towers, four of which are topped with pyramids as if they were minarets in a mosque. It is built with stone and red brick.
Yet it is a Roman Catholic church, not a mosque. This is absolutely clear when you see the west porch of the church, shown in the photo below, which is built of traditional stone. Viewed from almost every other angle, the red brick of this church makes one think of north Africa.
The church of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption at Simorre
Only a small portion of the church that we see today is original. A number of different religious buildings existed near Simorre, but the present church was started in 1292 and consecrated in 1309. Various parts were added around 1350, and again in 1442. The church is therefore a XIV church. Because of its architecture, with windows high above the ground, it is a fortified church.
The 19th century restoration
What we see today is largely the result of a substantial programme of restoration that took place between 1844 and 1858. If you’ve visited the Basilica of St. Sernin in Toulouse, then the church here in Simorre may not be too much of a surprise. The architect who worked on the restoration of this church in Simorre eventually went on to restore St. Sernin. The architect was Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. He also worked on the restoration of Carcassonne at the about the same time as he worked here in Simorre.
- Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, Simorre, on Wikipedia (French): https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%89glise_Notre-Dame_de_Simorre
- Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, on Wikipedia (French): https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Viollet-le-Duc#Quelques-unes_d…
- Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, on Wikipedia (English): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eug%C3%A8ne_Viollet-le-Duc
- The Basilica of St. Sernin, Toulouse, on Wikipedia (French): https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilique_Saint-Sernin_de_Toulouse
- Carcassonne on Wikipedia (English): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carcassonne
- Carcassonne on Wikipedia (French): https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carcassonne