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Albi Cathedral: Detail, entry through fortified door
The principal entry is on the south side through an elaborate porch entered by a fortified stair, rather than through the west front, as is traditional in France.
Constructed in the region's local southern Gothic style, the fortified cathedral of Ste Cécile ranks as one of the most accomplished and imposing monuments erected in southern France during the later Middle Ages. Building began shortly after 1277. Albi Cathedral shares with other Gothic churches in the region such typical southern traits as a nave without aisles, no transepts, lateral chapels and narrow windows, but its full range of tall chapels around the periphery is unique; their height is also part of the fortified defense of the building plan. The magnificent rood screen and accompanying choir enclosure that together occupy the cathedral's eastern half were probably executed between 1474 and 1483. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.