St Blaise Church window - influence of Islamic Architecture

First signs


Here’s the window that first got me interested in Moorish architecture. Walking in France in the Pyrenees in 2009, on the way from Lourdes to the start of the Camino Frances at St Jean de Pied de Port, there’s small town in the woods, Hôpital St Blaise. It’s a few buildings, a restaurant, a tiny hostel for pilgrims, and a solid stone church dating from the 12th century. There wasn’t much more in the middle ages, with the addition of a hospital for pilgrims.

The front of St Blaise church is Romanesque, but its windows and interior arches show an Islamic influence, coming from the long-disappeared caliphate, or taifa, of Lerida, across the Pyrenees in Spain. But here in the mountains of France is a trace of the artisans of the south, 800 years later. If I kept walking south, what more might be seen?