Top Historic Sights in Tours, France

Explore the historic highlights of Tours

Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours

The Musée des beaux-arts de Tours (Museum of Fine Arts of Tours) is located in the bishop's former palace, near the cathedral St. Gatien, where it has been since 1910. It displays rich and varied collections, including that of painting which is one of the first in France both in quality and the diversity of the works presented. In the courtyard, there is a magnificent cedar of Lebanon and and a stuffed elephant in ...
Founded: 1910 | Location: Tours, France

Tours Cathedral

Saint Gatien's Cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547. The first cathedral of Saint-Maurice was built by Litorius (Lidoire), bishop of Tours from 337 to 371 (preceding St Martin). Burnt in 561, it was restored by Gregory of Tours and rededicated in 590. Its location, at the south-west angle of the castrum, as well as its eastern orientation, resulted in the original access being through the late-Roman surrounding wall ...
Founded: 1170-1547 | Location: Tours, France

Basilica of St. Martin

The Basilique de St-Martin in Tours is a neo-Byzantine basilica on the site of previous churches built in honor of St. Martin, bishop of Tours in the 4th century. Next to it are two Romanesque towers and a Renaissance cloister surviving from the earlier basilica. St. Martin died in 397 at the age of about 81 in Candes, and his body was brought to Tours. Martin's remains were enclosed in a stone sarcophagus, above wh ...
Founded: 1886-1924 | Location: Tours, France

Château de Tours

The Château de Tours was built in the 11th century. The building displayed an architecture of the Carolingian period, and was the residence of the Lords of France. Until the 2000s, the Royal Castle of Tours was used as an aquarium where about 1,500 fish of 200 different species could be seen. It also served as Grévin museum. The castle was classified as monument historique on 20 August 1913. Currently, the b ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Tours, France

Church of St. Julien

This 13th century church was built on the site of an earlier building – a church dating from the 6th century. An austere exterior masks a gothic interior that does not have the ornate grandeur of the Cathedral St Gatien but is still imposing.
Founded: 1224 | Location: Tours, France

Marmoutier Abbey

Marmoutier Abbey, also known as the Marmoutiers, was an early monastery outside Tours. In its later days it followed the Benedictine order as an influential monastery with many dependencies. The abbey was founded by Saint Martin of Tours (316-397), circa 372, after he had been made Bishop of Tours in 371. Martin's biographer, Sulpicius Severus, affirms that Martin withdrew from the press of attention in the city to live i ...
Founded: ca. 372 | Location: Tours, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Lübeck Cathedral

Lübeck Cathedral is a large brick-built Lutheran cathedral in Lübeck, Germany and part of the Lübeck UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1173 Henry the Lion founded the cathedral to serve the Diocese of Lübeck, after the transfer in 1160 of the bishop's seat from Oldenburg in Holstein under bishop Gerold. The then Romanesque cathedral was completed around 1230, but between 1266 and 1335 it was converted into a Gothic-style building with side-aisles raised to the same height as the main aisle.

On the night of Palm Sunday (28–29 March) 1942 a Royal Air Force bombing raid destroyed a fifth of the town centre. Several bombs fell in the area around the church, causing the eastern vault of the quire to collapse and destroying the altar which dated from 1696. A fire from the neighbouring cathedral museum spread to the truss of the cathedral, and around noon on Palm Sunday the towers collapsed. An Arp Schnitger organ was lost in the flames. Nevertheless, a relatively large portion of the internal fittings was saved, including the cross and almost all of the medieval polyptychs. In 1946 a further collapse, of the gable of the north transept, destroyed the vestibule almost completely.

Reconstruction of the cathedral took several decades, as greater priority was given to the rebuilding of the Marienkirche. Work was completed only in 1982.

The cathedral is unique in that at 105 m, it is shorter than the tallest church in the city. This is the consequence of a power struggle between the church and the guilds.

The 17 m crucifix is the work of the Lübeck artist Bernt Notke. It was commissioned by the bishop of Lübeck, Albert II. Krummendiek, and erected in 1477. The carvings which decorate the rood screen are also by Notke.

Since the war, the famous altar of Hans Memling has been in the medieval collection of the St. Annen Museum, but notable polyptychs remain in the cathedral.

In the funeral chapels of the southern aisle are Baroque-era memorials by the Flemish sculptor Thomas Quellinus.