Cathedrals in France

Perpignan Cathedral

Perpignan Cathedral construction was begun in 1324 by King Sancho of Majorca, and later finished in the 15th century. It replaced the Cathedral of Elna, and therefore the church was at first the seat of the Bishop of Elne, and then, from 1602, of the Bishop of Perpignan. The cathedral was built in the Catalan Gothic style, because of its association with the Kingdom of Majorca. It has a wide nave (80 meters long, 18 m wi ...
Founded: 1324 | Location: Perpignan, France

Grasse Cathedral

The medieval church of Notre-Dame du Puy in Grasse was raised to cathedral status in 1244, when the bishop transferred from Antibes to Grasse. Its Provençal Romanesque style has been well preserved throughout the centuries. In the 17th century, an exterior staircase was built, while a chapel dedicated to the Saint Sacrament was added in 1740, in a beautiful Baroque style. The cathedral’s strict, basic style, structur ...
Founded: 1244 | Location: Grasse, France

Saint-Omer Cathedral

Saint-Omer Cathedral is a Roman Catholic former cathedral, a minor basilica. It was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Omer, but the see was not restored after the French Revolution, being instead absorbed into the Diocese of Arras under the Concordat of 1801. The church is still commonly referred to as the 'cathedral' however. The cathedral is an excellent example of the flamboyant style of gothic architecture of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Saint-Omer, France

Versailles Cathedral

Versailles Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral and national monument of France. It is the seat of the Bishop of Versailles, created as a constitutional bishopric in 1790 and confirmed by the Concordat of 1801. The cathedral was built as the parish church of Saint Louis before becoming the cathedral of the new diocese. The building is of the mid-18th century: the first stone was laid, by Louis XV in 1743 and the churc ...
Founded: 1743-1754 | Location: Versailles, France

Fréjus Cathedral

Fréjus cathedral, dedicated to Saint Leontius of Fréjus, has been the seat of the Bishop of Fréjus since the 5th century. It is located close to what appears to have been the Roman forum of Fréjus. Elements of Roman buildings, such as columns and walls, were incorporated into its structure. Beginning in late Roman times, the town suffered a series of invasions and was pillaged by Goths, Burgundians, Franks, ...
Founded: 5th century AD | Location: Fréjus, France

Auch Cathedral

Auch Cathedral of Sainte-Marie (1489–1662) is one of the finest Gothic buildings of southern France. Its chief features are 113 Renaissance choir stalls of carved oak and Renaissance stained-glass windows by Arnaud de Moles. The cathedral’s classical facade dates from the 16th and 17th centuries, and its great organ (17th century) is one of the finest in the world for playing Baroque music. The 18th-century archbish ...
Founded: 1489-1662 | Location: Auch, France

Coutances Cathedral

Coutances Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Coutances) is a Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral constructed from 1210 to 1274. It incorporated the remains of an earlier Norman cathedral. Standing 80 metres tall, it dominates the town and can be seen from as far away as the island of Jersey. It is a classic example of the Gothic style of Normandy in its use of long, straight, vertical lines. The construction of the first c ...
Founded: 1210-1274 | Location: Coutances, France

Soissons Cathedral

The construction of the Gothic Soissons Cathedral south transept was begun about 1177, and the lowest courses of the choir in 1182. The choir with its original three-storey elevation and extremely tall clerestory was completed in 1211. This was earlier than Chartres, on which the design was supposed to have been based. Work then continued into the nave until the late 13th century. The single western tower dates from the ...
Founded: 1177 | Location: Soissons, 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

Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges Cathedral

Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges Cathedral was originally built in the 12th century in Romanesque style. Over the northern and southern walls there are still Romanesque arches, the floor is made of marble and includes some tombs and sepulchurs. The cloister is also clearly Romanesque and offers an impressive view over the entire valley. The Gothic part is built in the Meridional Gothic style. There is a single nave that is ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, France

Nancy Cathedral

Nancy Cathedral was built at the beginning of the 18th century by architects Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Germain Boffrand. Several paintings by local artists from the 17th and 18th century are exhibited. The great organ of the cathedral of Nancy has been built from 1756 by Nicolas Dupont. One century later (1861), Aristide Cavaillé-Coll signed here its biggest work in France outside of Paris.
Founded: 1703 | Location: Nancy, France

Uzès Cathedral

Uzès Cathedral is a former Roman Catholic cathedral, now a parish church, dedicated to Saint Theodoritus. It was formerly the seat of the Bishops of Uzès, until the diocese was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and its territory passed to the Diocese of Avignon. In 1877 the territory of the former diocese of Uzès was removed from that of Avignon and added to the Diocese of Nîmes, now the Dio ...
Founded: 1642-1663 | Location: Uzès, France

Vienne Cathedral

Vienne Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Maurice, was the epicopal see of the primate of the ancient Septem Provinciae and of the Archdiocese of Vienne until its abolition confirmed by the Concordat of 1801. It today serves as co-cathedral of the Diocese of Grenoble-Vienne. The present-day building was erected from 1130 onwards. Mentioned as the burial place of the Burgundian king Boso of Provence in 887, no t ...
Founded: 1130 | Location: Vienne, France

Saint-Lizier Cathedrals

Saint-Lizier Cathedral can refer to either of the two former co-cathedrals of the town of Saint-Lizier, Notre-Dame Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède de Saint-Lizier) and St. Lizier"s Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Lizier de Saint-Lizier), dedicated to Saint Lycerius. Saint-Lizier falls into two quite separate parts, each with its own cathedral. The lower part contains the old village arou ...
Founded: 1117 | Location: Saint-Lizier, France

Condom Cathedral

Condom Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Peter. The cathedral dominates the town, which sits on a hill above the Baïse River. It was designed at the end of the 15th century and erected from 1506 to 1531, making it one of the last major buildings in the Gers region to be constructed in the Gothic style of south-west France. The church has buttresses all around and there is a 40-metre square tower over the west fr ...
Founded: 1506-1531 | Location: Condom, France

Bastia Cathedral

Bastia Cathedral (Pro-cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bastia) is a former Roman Catholic cathedral on the island of Corsica. The former Bastia Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Mary, was built from 1495 onwards, with major reconstruction at the beginning of the 17th century. Behind the church stands the chapel of Sainte-Croix, known for its exuberantly decorated interior and for the figure of Christ des Miracles, venerated ...
Founded: 1495 | Location: Bastia, 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

Toulon Cathedral

The first cathedral at Toulon existed in the 5th century, but no trace of it remains. The present building was begun in 1096 by Gilbert, Count of Provence, according to tradition in gratitude for his safe return from the Crusades. The first three travées, or bays of the nave, remain from the Romanesque 11th century church, and the present Chapel of Saint Joseph was originally the choir apse. The Chapel of Relics ...
Founded: 1096 | Location: Toulon, France

Meaux Cathedral

Meaux Cathedral construction began between 1175-1180, when a structure in Romanesque style was started. Defects in the original design and construction had to be corrected in the 13th century, in which the architect Gautier de Vainfroy was much involved. He had to remove the previous cathedral almost totally and start a new structure in Gothic style. In the later 13th century work was often interrupted due to lack of fund ...
Founded: 1175-1180 | Location: Meaux, France

Dol Cathedral

Dol Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Samson de Dol) was formerly the seat of the Archbishop of Dol, one of the nine ancient bishoprics of Brittany. The archbishopric was suppressed during the French Revolution and abolished by the Concordat of 1801, when it was merged into the dioceses of Rennes and St. Brieuc. The building is notable for its eclectic mix of styles and idiosyncrasies, such as the incomplete north tower ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Dol-de-Bretagne, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Wawel Castle

Wawel Hill – a Jurassic limestone rock, a dominant feature in the landscape of Kraków, have provided a safe haven for people who have settled here since the Paleolithic Age. It is supposed that the Slav people started living on Wawel hill as early as the 7th century. Early medieval legends tell stories about a dreadful dragon that lived in a cave on Wawel Hill, about his slayer Krakus, and about the latter’s daughter Wanda, who drowned herself in the Vistula rather than marry a German knight. Towards the end of the first millennium A.D Wawel began to play the role of the centre of political power.In the 9th century it became the principal fortified castrum of the Vislane tribe. The first historical ruler of Poland, Miesco I (c.965-992) of the Piast dynasty as well as his successors: Boleslas the Brave (992-1025) and Miesco II (1025-1034) chose Wawel Hill as one of their residences.

At that time Wawel became one of the main Polish centres of Christianity. The first early Romanesque and Romanesque sacral buildings were raised here, including a stone cathedral that was erected after the bishopric of Kraków was established in the year 1000.

During the reign of Casimir the Restorer (1034-1058) Wawel became a significant political and administrative centre for the Polish State. Casimir’s son, Boleslas the Bold (1058-1079) began the construction of a second Romanesque cathedral, which was finished by Boleslas the Wrymouth (1102-1138). In his last will of 1138, this prince divided Poland into districts, and provided that Kraków was to be the residence of the senior prince. In 1291 the city of Kraków along with Wawel Hill temporarily fell under the Czech rule, and Wenceslas II from the Premysl dynasty was crowned King of Poland in Wawel cathedral.

In 1306 the Duke of Kuyavia Ladislas the Short (1306-1333) entered Wawel and was crowned King of Poland in the Cathedral in 1320. It was the first historically recorded coronation of a Polish ruler on Wawel Hill. Around that time, at the initiative of Ladislas the Short, the construction of the third Gothic cathedral began, the castle was expanded and the old wooden and earthen fortifications were replaced by brick ones. The tomb of Ladislas the Short in the cathedral started a royal necropolis of Polish kings in Krakow.The last descendant of the Piast dynasty, Casimir the Great (1333-1370) brought Wawel to a state of unprecedented splendour. In 1364 the expanded gothic castle witnessed the marriage of Casimir’s granddaughter Elizabeth to Charles IV accompanied by a famous convention of kings and princes, subsequently entertained by a rich burgher Wierzynek. The accession to the throne in 1385 of Jadwiga from the Hungarian dynasty of Andegavens, and her marriage to a Lithuanian prince Ladislas Jagiello (1386-1434) started another era of prosperity for Wawel. The royal court employed local and western European artists and also Rus painters. During the reign of Casimir Jagiellon (1447-1492) the silhouette of the hill was enriched by three high brick towers: the Thieves’ Tower, the Sandomierz Tower and the Senatorial Tower. The first humanists in Poland and tutors to the king’s sons: historian Jan Długosz and an Italian by the name Filippo Buonacorsi (also known as Callimachus) worked there at that time.

The Italian Renaissance arrived at Wawel in the early 16th century. King Alexander (1501-1506) and his brother Sigismund I the Old (1506-1548) commissioned the construction of a new palace in place of the Gothic residence, with an impressive large courtyard with arcaded galleries which was completed about 1540. Sigismund’s patronage also left an indelible impression in the cathedral, where a family chapel was erected, known today as Sigismund’s Chapel - the work of Bartolomeo of Berrecci Florence, and through various foundations, one of which was that of a large bell, called the Sigismund to commemorate the king. Close artistic and cultural relations with Italy were strengthened in 1518 by the king’s marriage to Bona Sforza. Alongside Italian artists, German architects, wood workers, painters and metal smiths worked for the king. The last descendant of the Jagiellonian dynasty, Sigismund II Augustus (1548-1572), enriched the castle’s interiors with a magnificent collection of tapestries woven in Brussels. In the “Golden Age” of Polish culture Wawel became one of the main centres of humanism in Europe.

The reign of Sigismund III Waza (1587-1632) also made a strong impression on the history of Wawel. After a fire in the castle in 1595 the king rebuilt the burned wing of the building in the early Baroque style. The relocation of the royal court to Warsaw was the cause of a slow but nevertheless steady deterioration in the castle’s condition. The monarchs visited Kraków only occasionally. Restoration of the castle was undertaken during the reign of John III Sobieski, the Wettins and Stanislas Augustus to counteract neglect.

After Poland had lost its independence in 1795, the troops of partitioning nations, Russia, Prussia and Austria, subsequently occupied Wawel which finally passed into the hands of the Austrians. The new owners converted the castle and some of the secular buildings into a military hospital, and demolished some others, including churches. After the period of the Free City of Kraków (1815-1846) Wawel was once more annexed by Austria and turned into a citadel dominating the city. By the resolution passed by the Seym of Galicia in 1880, the castle was presented as a residence to the Emperor of Austria Franz Josef I. The Austrian troops left the hill between 1905-1911. At the turn of the 20th century a thorough restoration of the cathedral was conducted, and shortly afterwards a process of restoration of the royal castle began which lasted several decades.

When Poland regained its independence in 1918, the castle served as an official residence of the Head of State, and as a museum of historic interiors. During the Nazi occupation the castle was the residence of the German governor general, Hans Frank. Polish people managed to remove the most valuable objects, including the tapestries and the “Szczerbiec” coronation sword to Canada, from where they returned as late as 1959-1961. At present, the main curators of Wawel are Wawel Royal Castle – State Art Collection and the Metropolitan Basilica Board on Wawel Hill.