Chapelle Saint Gabriel

Tarascon - Monument

On the ancient site of Ernaginum, at the crossroads of the Via Agrippa and the Via Domitia, which later became a mediaeval stronghold, the 12th century Saint Gabriel Chapel and the former 13th century Château still testify to the site's prestigious past.
A masterpiece of southern Romanesque architecture, the interior of the chapel offers visitors a wealth of sculptures.
The façade of Saint Gabriel Chapel is inspired by Late Roman Empire decorations. It dates back to 1180, based on a comparison of its oculus with the arch of the western portal of Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux Cathedral.
In the upper part, an original archivolt surrounds an oculus decorated with leaves and masks and flanked by symbols of the four Evangelists. John (the eagle), Matthew (the man), Luke (the bull) and Mark (the lion), whose arrangement, with the symbol of John at the top, is reminiscent of the Carolingian style.
The lower part is a tribute to Saint Gabriel. A large arch houses the door, framed by two columns surmounted by a triangular fronton which peaks with the paschal lamb. The triangular fronton is supported by two columns whose Corinthian capitals, adorned with two rows of acanthus leaves, can still be admired today.
The sculpted scene on the fronton represents to the left, the Annunciation with Marie and the Archangel Gabriel and to the right, Mary and Elisabeth embracing. The characters are part of a structured décor consisting of three arches.
On the semi-circular tympanum above the entrance door is the scene where Gabriel announces to Daniel the coming of the Messiah. It is the scene where Daniel is in the lions' den, having been thrown to the beasts because he adored his God rather than his King.
The inside of the chapel is very plain and consists of a single nave divided into three vaulted bays ending in a circular apse. There is a funeral inscription to Marcus Frontonius Euporus from his wife Julia Nice, which translates as: ''To the shades of Marcus Frontonius Euprous, Augustal - one of the six oldest members of the collegial shrine of the colony Julia Augusta of Aquae Sextiae (Aix), boatman of Arles, patron of the sailors of the Durance and the corporation of raft-masters of Ernaginum'. The existence of this inscription proves that this site was the seat of a corporation of raft-masters, who transported goods on rafts supported by inflated bladders (uter = bladder).
The chapel's apse is pentagonal on the outside and large pillars act as buttresses for the interior transverse arches. The proportions of the building are remarkable. A sundial is still visible on the first buttress; the dial only indicates prayer times, which punctuated the days of both parishioners and workers (terce, sext and none).

  • Pets allowed
  • Public car park

Information provided by OT Tarascon

Nearby

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