Cathedrals in France

Antibes Cathedral

Antibes Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Platea d"Antibes) has been gradually built from the 5th or 6th century on the site of a pagan temple. The remains of this temple can be seen in the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. It is said that St Paul was arrested here on a journey to Spain in 63 AD. Destroyed by the barbarians in 1124, the church was rebuilt in the early 13th century. The plan is with three naves. The c ...
Founded: 13th century/1747 | Location: Antibes, France

Narbonne Cathedral

Narbonne Cathedral,dedicated to Saints Justus and Pastor, was the seat of the Archbishop of Narbonne until the Archbishopric was merged into the Diocese of Carcassonne under the Concordat of 1801. The church was declared a basilica minor in 1886. The building, begun in 1272, is noted for being unfinished. The site has a long history as a place of worship. In 313, just after the Edict of Milan, a Constantinian basilica wa ...
Founded: 1272 | Location: Narbonne, 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

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

Agde Cathedral

Agde Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Stephen and stands on the bank of the Hérault River. The present building was constructed in the 12th century, beginning in 1173 under the direction of bishop William II of Agde, and replaced a Carolingian church of the 9th century that stood on the foundations of a 5th-century Roman church, formerly a temple of Diana. The cathedral is remarkable for being built of black basalt from ...
Founded: 1173 | Location: Agde, 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

Arras Cathedral

The original cathedral of Arras, constructed between 1030 and 1396, was one of the most beautiful Gothic structures in northern France, until it was destroyed in the French Revolution. The cathedral was the resting place of Louis de Bourbon, Légitimé de France, illegitimate son of Louis XIV and Louise de La Vallière. In 1833 the church of the former St. Vaast"s Abbey was rebuilt in classical sty ...
Founded: 1833 | Location: Arras, France

Montauban Cathedral

Montauban Cathedral is the seat of the Bishopric of Montauban, created in 1317, abolished by the Concordat of 1801 and transferred to the Archdiocese of Toulouse, and restored in 1822. The cathedral was Protestant from the start of the Wars of Religion until Catholicism returned to Montauban in 1629. The construction of a new church, the present building, was agreed after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. T ...
Founded: 1692 | Location: Montauban, 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

Agen Cathedral

Agen Cathedral's (Cathédrale Saint-Caprais d'Agen) visible structure dates back to the 12th century. It was built as a collegiate church of canons dedicated to Saint Caprasius, on the foundations of a basilica sacked by the Normans in 853 but thereafter restored. Sacked again in December 1561 during the Wars of Religion, by two years after the countrywide coup d'état that took place in 1789, the cathedral had come to s ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Agen, France

Lisieux Cathedral

Lisieux Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Lisieux) is a former Roman Catholic cathedral, and a national monument of France. Built between 1170 and the middle of the 13th century through the initiative of Bishop Arnulf, the cathedral was the seat of the Bishop of Lisieux until the diocese of Lisieux was abolished under the Concordat of 1801 and merged into the Diocese of Bayeux. The west front of the building c ...
Founded: 1170 | Location: Lisieux, France

Laval Cathedral

Laval Cathedral (Cathédrale de la Sainte-Trinité de Laval) was founded around 1070, but the current exterior dates mainly from 1855 when it was promoted as a cathedral. The cathedral has been enlarged several times during centuries. There were originally dozen altarpieces, but only one survived from the French Revolution. It was built in the 17th century. The pulpit was made in 1803 and marble font in 1554.
Founded: c. 1070 | Location: Laval, 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

Auxerre Cathedral

Auxerre Cathedral is known for its expansive stained glass windows. Most of the Burgundian Gothic cathedral was built between 1215 and 1233 above an 11th-century crypt. Construction continued until the 1540s when the cupola, in Renaissance style that takes the place of one pinnacle on the completed tower, was completed. The first building campaign erected the chevet at the liturgical east end, followed later in the centur ...
Founded: 1215-1233 | Location: Auxerre, 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

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

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 12 ...
Founded: 1239 | Location: Quimper, France

Cambrai Cathedral

Cambrai Cathedral was built between 1696 and 1703 on the site of a former 11th century building, as the church of the Abbey of St-Sulpice. During the French Revolution the old cathedral of Cambrai was destroyed, but the abbey church survived because it was used as a Temple of Reason. When the ecclesiastical status of Cambrai was restored in 1802, albeit as a diocese rather than as an archdiocese, which it had previously b ...
Founded: 1696-1703 | Location: Cambrai, France

Mirepoix Cathedral

Mirepoix Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Maurice de Mirepoix) foundation stone was laid by Jean de Lévis on the 6th May 1298. Construction continued, with interruptions, over the next six centuries. The cathedral was restored in 1858 and 1859. The cathedral has the second widest Gothic arch in Europe (after Girona in Catalonia, Spain). Inside the cathedral vandalism and demolitions has destroyed many treasures ...
Founded: 1298 | Location: Mirepoix, France

Vannes Cathedral

The first Vannes Cathedral was erected around 1020 in Romanesque style. The tower is only structure left from it and accommodates the four bells of the church. The present Gothic building was erected on the site of the former cathedral. Its construction extends from the 15th to the 19th centuries, or if the length of the existence of the 13th century Romanesque bell tower is included, a total of seven centuries of constru ...
Founded: c. 1020 | Location: Vannes, 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.