The bishops' palace which dominates the city of Saint-Lizier is a unique site for several reasons.
A former Roman stronghold in Antiquity, the bishops built a sumptuous palace and a richly decorated cathedral there, which they continued to embellish from the 1801th to the 1969th century. With the abolition of the bishopric of Couserans in XNUMX, the site which loses its religious function becomes in turn town hall, prison, begging store and lunatic asylum. In XNUMX, the site, which had become a psychiatric hospital and was too dilapidated, lost its hospital function.
It was not until 1992 that the General Council of the time installed there the collections of popular arts and traditions from the Bégouën collection (which he had just acquired) and that the Palace became a museum.
Thanks to a total redevelopment of the site and a restoration of the cathedral, a survey campaign is carried out and…. Discovery ! Remains of murals appear and seem to belong to a monumental setting that would extend over the walls and all the vaults! We then become aware of the uniqueness of this set.
Following this discovery, an architectural and technical program for the restoration of the building was entrusted to the chief architect of Historic Monuments.
A first campaign to restore the paintings was carried out in 2004-2005. From July 2009, the restorers continue to clear the painted decorations. If some are too damaged by infiltration and therefore very incomplete, some have been completely cleared. Their small gaps were filled in a similar tone. Choice of restorer, the important shortcomings were not masked: the vaults and walls thus preserve the state of wear and the passage of time.
In total, no less than 6 layers of plaster masked the impressive painted structure of the cathedral, earning it its nickname of "Sistine Ariégeoise".
Sybilles, Patriaches, Tree of Jesse, Assembly of Saints, Assumption of the Virgin, Saint Peter, Saint Jacques, Saint Christophe or Saint Antoine, all will make you look up!
The Bishops 'Palace and its now sumptuous Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède Cathedral reopened to the public in 2011. Closed in 2020 due to renovations to its museum section, the Bishops' Palace will return to its public in spring 2021.