Page:A book of the Pyrenees.djvu/354

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298
THE PYRENEES

the sculpture is of exquisite delicacy: foliage, figures of every description are there in lavish profusion. The pillars are coupled, some twisted, some plain. The very bases are enriched with ornament.


"In the morning, in summer, when the sun lights up the galleries to north and west, all the details come out with extraordinary brilliancy. In the afternoon the eastern gallery is burnt by the solar rays that have turned the marble yellow."— P. Vidal.


In the lateral wall on the north side open two doorways, one of which must be entered with precaution, or one may fall below, for the stair that led from it has disappeared. Underneath are two large vaulted chambers paved with bricks, communicating one with another by a small opening. Traces of fresco painting may be noticed. The popular opinion is that these were the dungeons of the Inquisition, but actually they were an old chapel dedicated to S. Laurence. The other door gives access to a spiral staircase leading to a terrace, from which a magnificent view is obtained of the plain, the Albères, and Canigou.

Arles-sur-Mer is a watering-place by the sea. Near it is the more interesting port of Collioure, an Iberian name signifying the port of the New Town; and Iberian coins have been found there. The fortress of S. Elne was built by Charles V. The streets are narrow, the houses dilapidated, and occupied mainly by fishermen and their families.


"On the sea-coast these men enter into very hot discussions, use expressions somewhat rough and coarse, but rarely come to blows. Few scandals occur here, and they marry young. It is worthy of remark that among these good folk so free of tongue and freer still in opinion, these solid republicans, the religious sentiment is very developed. They pray to God and go to Mass;