The Cloister of St Trophime, Arles

The cloister of St Trophime supports some remarkable and eye-catching imagery, full of nightmares and the fears of a superstitious age. St Trophime (and its cloisture) was built around the 12th century and is a fine example of Romanesque architecture.

First, the door of the church itself is embellished with the Last Judgement, angels trumpeting the call that will wake us all from our deathly slumber, and then Christ, as King, standing in judgement on every soul; ’tis to Heaven or Hell that would be y’ur only path:

And just to remind you of your mortality and the judgement that awaits after death draw’s its final curtain, within the church itself a reminder of your mortality:

Arresting imagery, has a way of grabbing your attention doesn’t it?

Onto the cloister itself. It has a remarkable courtyard, bordered by columns, decorated with truly cosmic themes; beasts of terror, angels, demons, saints.

This image is my favourite, a steady gaze that confronts you with a sense of equanimity, from a visage that, at least in this light, seems to glow with its own light.


The figures adorn the tops of columns within the central yard of the cloister


And the inside walls of the cloister (and the arched roof):


The tops of the columns, faces and figures tell their various stories, of fear and of triumph, of the “eternal battle” of the grotesque and the good









Finally, the cloister itself is entered through this charming courtyard, just off to the side of the main church: