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For centuries Mazamet has been the theatre of numerous struggles, as witnessed by its medieval village, and protestant and catholic churches.

Hautpoul, medieval village

Crouched on its rocky outcrop, overlooking the town of Mazamet at an altitude of more than 300 m, the village of Hautpoul guards the entrance to the 'Black Mountains' and its vast forests . According to legend, Hautpoul was founded in 413 by a Visigoth king . It was the scene of bloody wars of religion: the crusades against the Cathars, quarrels between Catholics and Protestants. Hautpoul’s population dwindled as its inhabitants settled in the valley of the Arnette and founded the town of Mazamet .
Today, the village has discovered a new life: some of the old houses are now home to artisan craftsmen and their workshops.  The 'Association de la Rocque d’Hautpoul' brings medieval times to life through a programme of festivals and entertainments during the summer months (torchlight tours, pageants, archery competitions) Exceptional views over the valley and the town of Mazamet can be enjoyed from the feet of the statue of Our Lady, and from the terraces of the old castle.

For more information about the site and its history , the Tourist Office offers nightly guided tours by torchlight (reservations: 05.63.61.27.07 mid July to mid August.)
 

THE CHURCHES

Hautpoul Church

The first primitive parish of Mazamet: the ruins of the church are to be found on a hill, tucked into one of the meanders of the river Arnette, between the town and the village of Moulin de L'Oule.
It is an easy walk from Mazamet following the river on the 'Lou Cami Ferrat' or the track to 'La Jamarie' (GR36, marked in red and white.)
It was in 1253 that 'Jordan de Saissac' named this place 'Saint Sauveur d'Hautpoul'.
Today the church lies in ruins, partially restored. This has been the fate of most of the ancient religious buildings in the area destroyed by the protestant Huguenots. In 1574, they destroyed Saint Sauveur with a culverin (small cannon) which the Catholics named “Casse-Messe.”

Church of 'St Saviour'

After the destruction of Hautpoul, Protestants dominated the region for nearly two centuries. In 1665, there were 1732 Protestants and only 314 Catholics who then used the church of St. Jacques called at the time St. Tsames. In 1805 this became the Reformed Church.
In the eighteenth century, the development of the textile industry attracted a rural population, predominantly of Catholics, so it was decided to build the present church of St. Saviour (1740).
The austerity of its external appearance, with its sober and “square" frontage, contrasts with its multicoloured interior frescoes painted by the artist Regagnon.
Don’t miss the 'Cavaillé Coll' organ (1873).

Church of Notre Dame

The economic grown of the town due to the development of fellmongering led to a considerable increase in the population of Mazamet, which doubled within 50 years to more than 14 600 inhabitants in 1886. This massive influx of labour from the surrounding countryside, mainly Catholic, led to the building of a second place of worship: the church of Notre Dame. This is a Neo Gothic Church built in 1872, in which 14 sculptures by Antoine ALOS illustrate the Passion of Christ. The stained glass windows were made ​​by the monks of En Calcat. 

Church of the 'Sacred Heart of Bonnecousse'

The idea of building this church came from a vow made ​​on June the 9th 1945, feast day of the Sacred Heart, during the German occupation. "If Mazamet is spared from Nazi barbarism, a church will be built, dedicated to the Sacred Heart.”
The church was designed in 1959 by the architect Joseph Belmont, and Jean Prouvé and Serge Ketoff engineers. The church combines tradition, elegance and sophistication in building technology. It has been listed as a Historic Monument of the twentieth century, since 2001, when the architect was still living.

Our Lady of Sanguinou

This eleventh century Romanesque chapel located on the Causse de Caucalières is considered the oldest shrine of the department. Last Sunday of August offers pilgrimage and mass.

THE ORGANS

Mazamet organs, all made in the workshops of Cavaillé Coll, are well worth a visit.  They can be seen and heard in the temple of the oratory, at St Saviour, and Notre Dame. The festival "Autan en emportent les orgues", is held annually in August, to better appreciate the three organs of our town with recitals and concerts.

 

THE TEMPLES

Temple of St Jacques

This temple was originally a Catholic church founded in the sixteenth century and was given to the Protestant community as, although the latter represented a large population in the area, they did not have a place of worship. Its name is due to its location on an alternative road to St Jacques de Compostela. Note also that its bell tower served as a jail for a famous prisoner: Paul Sirven.

New Temple

During the construction of Notre Dame church, the municipal council was anxious to preserve good relations between both communities and therefore decided to build a second temple. Thus the Temple Neuf, whose neo-classical façade you can admire, was built in the heart of La Sagne, mainly inhabited by a Protestant industrial population. The decline in the protestant population, and major maintenance costs inside (the outside is maintained by the town) forced them to return the building to the Town Hall in 2002. Today this building has lost its religious vocation. The town has plans to make it a cultural centre.

Temple of the Oratory

Secretariat and place of worship of the Protestant church, the temple also serves as a concert hall for the organ festival.