La Tourasse, now an unusual Italian-style theater in Rieux-Volvestre

The small town of Rieux-Volvestre, on the borders of the Comminges, is home to many architectural treasures.

The strangest one is located in the rue de Salles with the imposing building of the Tourasse.

This building, located in the heart of the city, is a seigniorial tower built during the 13th century, having belonged to the Marquefave family. Also called "Baron's Tower", its first vocation was to serve as a fortified residence for local lord families.

Bought by the city in 1517, it housed for a time the regional consistory, a place where clergymen gathered, and then served as the city hall until the French revolution. After the revolution, from 1795 onwards and during the 19th century, it was used for various purposes, as an archive storage, a barn and a prison.

On the first floor, one can still see two former gaols whose walls are covered with engravings and drawings. According to some sources, Arnaud Duthil, whose life was recounted in the film "Le retour de Martin Guerre", waited there for his hanging.

Afterwards, and until the 19th century, the town's rural guard locked up troublemakers in the castle.


An Italian-style theater...

In 1923, the large room upstairs was converted into a Florentine-style Italian theater by the Philharmonic Society. The style is Florentine, with a ceiling, a balcony, a backdrop decorated with cherubs, baskets of roses, ribbons, but also views of the city and coats of arms.

This decor is by Mercié, a full-time grocer, artist and occasional ticket seller. See the sumptuous chestnut frame assembled without any iron parts.

Folk dance rehearsals were also organized there, notably on the occasion of the Papogay festival, organized since 1586 by the Compagnie des Archers du Papogay, as well as end-of-year school shows.

In the years 1962-1965, the theater was used as a movie theater for the inhabitants of the city. In spite of the success with the public, the building is closed in 1965 for safety reasons, the electric network being considered dangerous by EDF.

Left abandoned, the building deteriorated over the years, but in 1983 the City Council carried out roofing work, putting La Tourasse out of water.

In 1990, La Tourasse was listed in the "supplementary inventory of historical monuments", of regional interest.

The capacity of the theater is 150 seats and a team of volunteers want to save this place and animate it.



Association for the safeguard of the Theater of Rieux-Volvestre

Town Hall

31310 Rieux-Volvestre

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