Cathedral of San Luis de Cartago

Cathedral of San Luis de Cartago
Cathedral of San Luis de Cartago
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For centuries Tunisia, in the north of Africa, is a country whose inhabitants are mainly of Muslim beliefs. Which does not mean that there have not been other religions in this territory of the Maghreb. A good example of this is the existence of two Catholic cathedrals in the country. One of them is the Cathedral of Saint Vincent de Paul in the Tunisian capital and the other is Saint Louis located in the city of Carthage. We are going to talk about the latter below.

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Cathedral of San Luis de Cartago

The truth is that it is a temple built at the beginning of the 19th century, when Tunisia was under the rule of France. A time when the powerful French Cardinal Charles Martial Lavigerie promoted the construction of this great church to honor King Louis IX of France, who back in the thirteenth century he had died in Tunis infected with plague during the course of his military campaigns of the Seventh Crusade.

Hence the invocation of San Luis for the temple of Cartago. And being a Catholic work and of French promotion, it was built following the guidelines of a neo-Byzantine architecture and with arabesque touches that were so popular in the 19th century in France, where there are large buildings of this style at Marseille, where Notre Dame de la Garde is. And even in Paris, with the iconicTemple of the Sacred Heart of the hill of Montmartre.

An orientalizing style that fits perfectly in Tunisia and that somehow also served to make cultural winks to the local population, because after all it was going to be the seat of the Catholic bishop in the city, and therefore an institution outside the Muslim tradition.

The Cathedral of San Luis de Cartago has a Latin cross floor plan, and it highlights the two towers that rise at its feet, that is, on its façade. On the other hand, Moorish details are common in the decoration. Especially in the stained glass windows that are in the different openings of the building.

However, it must be said that it no longer has a religious use. Since 1964 no Catholic ceremonies have been held inside, and by agreement with the Vatican, the building became the property of the Tunisian State. In this way, the building was closed to worship and over time it was transformed until it became in 1993 the outstanding cultural center that it is today.

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