We do not know the origin of the name Quarante: is it the fortieth church of Charlemagne, the presence on the site of the remains of forty martyrs according to a bull of Pope Innocent IV of 1357, a derivative of the Gaulish Karanto which would mean a village built on a rock or does the name come from the neighboring river “Caranta”?
In any case, the village built on a small hillock was occupied since prehistoric times.
Mentioned in 902, the early Christian chapel of Quarante was replaced in the 982th century by a church with a quadrangular heart and a single nave; the construction was completed in 983. It was consecrated for the first time in 12. It then brought together a community of XNUMX canons.
At the very beginning of the XNUMXth century, Quarante belonged to the immense ecclesiastical province of Narbonne which included Tarragona in Spain and Toulouse in France.
The Sainte-Marie abbey church today constitutes one of the finest examples of the developments in religious art in the South of France between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries. It is a jewel of early Languedoc Romanesque art. It bears witness to the first Romanesque art in Languedoc like the church of Saint Guilhem le Désert. It is nevertheless distinguished by the fact that it is today enclosed in the urban fabric, its bedside is not visible.
We notice on the wall of the main south facade, a Lombard decoration which adorns the upper floor of the nave, the buttresses or abutments which make it possible to stiffen the round arched vault of the nave, the walls raised for a defensive purpose, the crossing of the transept which is surmounted by a hexagonal lantern. The South transept is topped by a Gothic bell tower.
Located on the road to Santiago de Compostela (today GR 78), the church was very attractive because it contains prestigious relics, today kept in a museum:
– A reliquary fashioned by a Montpellier artist, Jacques Maurel: bust in silver and vermeil, preserving a fragment of the cross of Christ and a bone of the head of Saint John the Baptist. The latter would have prophylactic virtues, it would have the power to cure headaches...
– Bones of holy martyrs of the Christian religion: Dalmat, Landlt, Valence, Landebert and Gervais, contained in a sarcophagus.
– Shrines housing relics of Saint Suzanne and Mary Magdalene.
The church offers two altars in white marble veined with gray of ancient origin, the main altar is decorated with semi-circular lobes framed with egg borders.
We also discover a Roman sarcophagus from the XNUMXth century (the flame sarcophagus).
Did you know ?
By taking the direction of Capestang, you pass by Le Domaine de Roueïre on which stands a wind turbine Bollée, interesting testimony of the technical development of the end of the XIXe century. Bollée is the family name of a long line of inventors and engineers, working in many fields (including the foundry of bells and the automobile). This wind turbine, classified as a historical monument, allowed the supply of drinking water to the nearby wine-growing castle that was built by a noble Cruzy family.
The village offers in its heart a maze of small streets. Opposite the town hall is the Saint Jean chapel.
Departing from the cooperative cellar, an 8km hike without major difficulty entitled the July Cross will allow you to discover a thousand colors between vineyards and scrubland. Another 13 km named the Banks of the Canal, will make you discover, as its name suggests, part of this magnificent work that is the Canal du Midi.
Around the town, there are magnificent XNUMXth century castles such as the Château de Saliès, the Château de Roueire, the Château les Carrasses... they bear witness to the golden age of wine-growing Languedoc.
Want to awaken your taste buds in a restaurant? To taste tasty local products? To try the prestigious regional wines? Never mind, discover the many addresses of producers and restaurants who warmly welcome you to Quarante.