Cathedrals in France

Avignon Cathedral

Avignon Cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop. The cathedral is a Romanesque building, built primarily in the second half of the 12th century. The bell tower collapsed in 1405 and was rebuilt in 1425. In 1670-1672 the apse was rebuilt and extended. The building was abandoned and allowed to deteriorate during the Revolution, but it was reconsecrated in 1822 and restored by the archbishop Célestin Dupont in 1835-1 ...
Founded: 1670-1672 | Location: Avignon, France

Beauvais Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Peter of Beauvais is, in some respects, the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, and consists only of a transept (16th-century) and choir, with apse and seven polygonal apsidal chapels (13th-century), which are reached by an ambulatory. A small Romanesque church dating back to the 10th-century, known as the Basse Œuvre, still occupies the site destined for the nave of the Beauvais ...
Founded: 1225 | Location: Beauvais, France

Amiens Cathedral

Amiens Cathedral is one of the largest classic 13th century Gothic churches. It is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation, and the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal facade and in the south transept. Amiens Cathedral was originally built in 1152 in Romanesque style and destroyed by fire in 1218. Reconstruction was started around 1220 and the nave was c ...
Founded: c. 1220 | Location: Amiens, France

Lille Cathedral

The construction of the Lille Cathedral began in 1854. The church takes its name from a 12th-century statue of the Virgin Mary. It was built to the Neo-Gothic 13th century style. The initial project was massive: 132 metres long, with spires reaching up to over 115 metres. However, wars and financial difficulties soon put an end to these plans. With the creation of the bishopric of Lille in 1913, the basilica became a cath ...
Founded: 1854 | Location: Lille, France

Carcassonne Cathedral

Carcassonne Cathedral was built in the 13th century as a parish church, dedicated to Saint Michael. Following war damage in the 14th century it was rebuilt as a fortified church. In 1803 St. Michael"s was elevated to cathedral status, replacing the earlier cathedral dedicated to Saints Nazarius and Celsus, now the Basilica of St. Nazaire and St. Celse. The cathedral plan is characterised by its relative simplicity. ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Carcassonne, France

Orléans Cathedral

Orléans Cathedral (Cathédrale Sainte-Croix d'Orléans) is a Gothic catholic cathedral in the city of Orléans, France. It is the seat of the Bishop of Orléans and it was built from 1278 to 1329 and 1601-1829 (after partial destruction in 1568). The cathedral is probably most famous for its association with Joan of Arc. The French heroine attended evening Mass in this cathedral on May 2, 1 ...
Founded: 1278-1329 | Location: Orléans, France

Chartres Cathedral

Partly built starting in 1145, and then reconstructed over a 26-year period after the fire of 1194, Chartres Cathedral marks the high point of French Gothic art. The vast nave, in pure ogival style, the porches adorned with fine sculptures from the middle of the 12th century, and the magnificent 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows, all in remarkable condition, combine to make it a masterpiece. The construction pr ...
Founded: 1145-1260 | Location: Chartres, France

Béziers Cathedral

St.Nazaire cathedral is te main sight in Béziers. This grandiose Romanesque cathedral dates from the 13th century. It was erected on the site of an earlier building which was destroyed during the Massacre at Béziers in the Albigensian Crusade. It occupies one of the best sites in town: from the concourse in front of the cathedral there are beautiful views out over the surrounding vineyards and towards the fo ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Béziers, France

Nantes Cathedral

The construction of Nantes Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul de Nantes) began in 1434 on the site of a Romanesque cathedral and took 457 years to finish, finally reaching completion in 1891. The cathedral"s foundation stone was laid on 14 April 1434, by John VI, Duke of Brittany and Jean de Malestroit, Bishop of Nantes (1417-1443). The first architect in charge was Guil ...
Founded: 1434 | Location: Nantes, France

Reims Cathedral

Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Reims) is the seat of the Archdiocese of Reims, where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral replaced an older church, destroyed by fire in 1211, that was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. That original structure had itself been erected on the site of some Roman baths. A major tourism destination, the cathedral r ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Reims, France

Poitiers Cathedral

Poiters Cathedral construction began in 1162 by Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine on the ruins of a Roman basilica, and work was well advanced by the end of the 12th century. It is the largest medieval monument in the city of Poitiers. It is built in the Romanesque and Early Gothic styles, the latter predominating. It consists of three naves almost equal in height and width, all three of which decrease towards ...
Founded: 1162 | Location: Poitiers, France

Rennes Cathedral

The site of current Rennes Cathedral has been used for a cathedral more or less from the beginnings of the see in the 6th century. The earliest building was completely replaced by a Gothic cathedral in the 12th century, of which in 1490 the tower and the entire west front collapsed. The existing façade with its neoclassical granite towers in four stages was constructed over the next two centuries or so, with long g ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Rennes, France

Vence Cathedral

The Cathedral Notre Dame de la Nativité, built in the 4th century took its final shape in the 12th century. The Tower Saint Lambert, vestige of the Bishop"s Palace of France dates from the same period.  Inside, the size of the building can be surprising, but one is very quickly charmed by all the marvels which it contains: a fragment of a sarcophagus with low Gallo-Roman reliefs, pieces of Carolingian sculptures an ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Vence, France

Nîmes Cathedral

Nîmes Cathedral is believed to stand on the site of the former Roman temple of Augustus. It is partly Romanesque and partly Gothic in style. The first cathedral was consecrated in 1096. The current appearance dates mainly from the 17th century. In 1822 the original Romanesque portal was demolished. The organ dates from 1643.
Founded: 1096 | Location: Nîmes, France

Blois Cathedral

Blois Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Louis de Blois) is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and a national monument of France, in Blois. It is the seat of the Bishopric of Blois, established in 1697. This was previously the collegiate church of Saint-Solenne, the original building of which dated from the 12th century. Apart from some traces in the crypt nothing survives of this. The façade and the bell tower were buil ...
Founded: 1697 | Location: Blois, France

Verdun Cathedral

Verdun Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral, and national monument of France. In about 330, Saint Saintin (or Sainctinus) evangelised the city of Verdun, became its first bishop and founded a church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. In 457 Saint Pulchronius (or Pulchrone), a later bishop, had a cathedral built inside the walls of a ruined Roman building, on the present site. Several buildings were erected and destro ...
Founded: 990 AD | Location: Verdun, France

Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux Cathedral is a Norman-Romanesque style cathedral built originally in the 11th century. It was the original home of the Bayeux Tapestry and is a national monument of France. The site is an ancient one and was once occupied by Roman sanctuaries. The present cathedral was consecrated on 14 July 1077 in the presence of William, Duke of Normandy and King of England. It was here that William forced Harold Godwinson to ta ...
Founded: 1077 | Location: Bayeux, France

Metz Cathedral

Saint-Étienne de Metz, also known as Metz Cathedral, is built on the site of an ancient the 5th century church dedicated to Saint Stephen protomartyr. According to Gregory of Tours, the shrine of Saint Stephen was the sole structure spared during the sack of 451 by Attila"s Huns. The construction of the Gothic cathedral began in 1220 within the walls of an Ottonian basilica dating from the 10th century. The in ...
Founded: 1220 | Location: Metz, France

Albi Cathedral

Albi Cathedral is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Albi a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was built as a fortress in the aftermath of the Albigensian Crusade. Begun in 1287 and under construction for 200 years, it is claimed to be the largest brick building in the world. The present cathedral was preceded by other buildings. The first dated from the fourth century and in 666 was destroyed by fire. The second i ...
Founded: 1287-1480 | Location: Albi, France

Angers Cathedral

Angers Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d'Angers) was constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries on the orders of bishops Normand de Doué and Guillaume de Beaumont after the original building burnt down in 1032. The original Romanesque church was rebuilt with Gothic details in the mid 12th century. The single-aisle plan was vaulted with pointed arches resting on a re-clad interior elevation. The nave cons ...
Founded: 12th-13th centuries | Location: Angers, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora

Monastery of São Vicente de Fora (Monastery of St. Vincent Outside the Walls) is a 17th-century church and monastery in the city of Lisbon. It is one of the most important monasteries and mannerist buildings in the country. The monastery also contains the royal pantheon of the Braganza monarchs of Portugal.

The original Monastery of São Vicente de Fora was founded around 1147 by the first Portuguese King, Afonso Henriques, for the Augustinian Order. The Monastery, built in Romanesque style outside the city walls, was one of the most important monastic foundations in mediaeval Portugal. It is dedicated to Saint Vincent of Saragossa, patron saint of Lisbon, whose relics were brought from the Algarve to Lisbon in the 12th century.

The present buildings are the result of a reconstruction ordered by King Philip II of Spain, who had become King of Portugal (as Philip I) after a succession crisis in 1580. The church of the monastery was built between 1582 and 1629, while other monastery buildings were finished only in the 18th century. The author of the design of the church is thought to be the Italian Jesuit Filippo Terzi and/or the Spaniard Juan de Herrera. The plans were followed and modified by Leonardo Turriano, Baltazar Álvares, Pedro Nunes Tinoco and João Nunes Tinoco.

The church of the Monastery has a majestic, austere façade that follows the later Renaissance style known as Mannerism. The façade, attributed to Baltazar Álvares, has several niches with statues of saints and is flanked by two towers (a model that would become widespread in Portugal). The lower part of the façade has three arches that lead to the galilee (entrance hall). The floorplan of the church reveals a Latin cross building with a one-aisled nave with lateral chapels. The church is covered by barrel vaulting and has a huge dome over the crossing. The general design of the church interior follows that of the prototypic church of Il Gesù, in Rome.

The beautiful main altarpiece is a Baroque work of the 18th century by one of the best Portuguese sculptors, Joaquim Machado de Castro. The altarpiece has the shape of a baldachin and is decorated with a large number of statues. The church also boasts several fine altarpieces in the lateral chapels.

The Monastery buildings are reached through a magnificent baroque portal, located beside the church façade. Inside, the entrance is decorated with blue-white 18th century tiles that tell the history of the Monastery, including scenes of the Siege of Lisbon in 1147. The ceiling of the room has an illusionistic painting executed in 1710 by the Italian Vincenzo Baccarelli. The sacristy of the Monastery is exuberantly decorated with polychromed marble and painting. The cloisters are also notable for the 18th century tiles that recount fables of La Fontaine, among other themes.

In 1834, after the religious orders were dissolved in Portugal, the monastery was transformed into a palace for the archbishops of Lisbon. Some decades later, King Ferdinand II transformed the monks' old refectory into a pantheon for the kings of the House of Braganza. Their tombs were transferred from the main chapel to this room.