From the 11th Century onward, Europe is covered in a “white mantle of churches”. Robust and moving in their simplicity (without transept), these churches convey the spirit of Romanesque Art. From this era, the remains of the priories of Saint-Michel-de-Nahuze and Mirailles are left. These used to be dependencies of the Abbey of Lagrasse. Just like Saint Martin des Puits, a true gem of early Romanesque Art in the Corbières Minervois region. Although quite modest as far as its volume and structure are concerned, its nave opens onto the choir by way of a horseshoe arch, leading to the fabulous frescoes of the 12th Century.
In the Corbières Minervois region, several other edifices can still be admired: solid stone-wall constructions with small splayed windows, with stone arches or timber frameworks. The chevets (‘headpieces’) are circular or flat, like the one in Saint-Martin-de-Gasparets, which dates back to the 12th Century. Saint-Martin d’Escales is a fine example of Romanesque Art in the Corbières Minervois region, with its semi-domed arched chevet (three apses), decorated with Lombardy friezes, with little windows set off by a thin cordon of black basalt. The decoration obviously was made to benefit from the quality and the colours of the stones which were used.
In Fontjoncouse, the distinctive feature of Sainte-Léocadie is that it is built right up against the medieval ramparts and therefore is part of the village’s defensive structure. You’ll be taken aback by the elegance and sobriety of its Romanesque round-arched portal, built with the local limestone rock which has a slightly brighter shade than other parts of the church.
May we suggest you let your mind wander for a brief moment at the beginning of this wild valley... Amidst the Corbières vineyards, Saint-Félix de Castelmaure looks like it’s been waiting for you. What may strike you is the starkness of its bell tower/wall and the small cruciform window, as well as the peaceful solitude it breathes. Of Romanesque origin (11th and 12th Centuries), it has been restored in the 19th Century. If you would like to visit it, you’ll have to ask for its key at the Embres-et-Castelmaure Wine Cooperative.