Cathedrals in France

Rieux Cathedral

Rieux Cathedral was the seat of the Ancien Régime diocese of Rieux, created in 1317 and dissolved in 1790. The cathedral was built on the site of 13th century church and contains defensive elements from the old fortified church. Its 43 meters high octagonal tower is built in Toulouse style.
Founded: 1317 | Location: Rieux-Volvestre, France

Tarbes Cathedral

Tarbes Cathedral was established during the 12th century. There remain two apses of the choir. A first extension was made in the 14th century by the addition of a Gothic nave. Its extension extended until the 18th century with the outer span. The cathedral resembles a fortress as it was built with round pebbles from the river Adour which have also been used for the construction of many houses in Tarbes. It can accommod ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Tarbes, France

Lescar Cathedral

The building of Lescar Cathedral was begun in 1120 by Bishop Guy de Lons, and was sacked by the Protestants during the reign of Jeanne III of Navarre. It was restored in the 17th and 18th centuries. The apse, housing a pavement mosaic from the 12th century with hunting scenes, is in Romanesque style. In the interior, columns have capitals depicting histories of the life of Daniel, of the birth of Christ and the S ...
Founded: 1120 | Location: Lescar, France

Bayonne Cathedral

The Cathedral of Saint Mary of Bayonne is the seat of the former Bishops of Bayonne, now the Bishops of Bayonne, Lescar, and Oloron. The cathedral is in the Gothic architectural tradition. The site was previously occupied by a Romanesque cathedral that was destroyed by two fires in 1258 and 1310. Construction of the present cathedral began in the 13th century and was completed at the beginning of the 17th, exce ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Bayonne, 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

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

Éauze Cathedral

Eauze former cathedral is a national monument. It was the ecclesiastical seat of the former Diocese of Eauze, which was merged into the Bishopric of Auch, probably in the 9th century. Eauze Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Luperculus, who is said to have been a bishop here in the 3rd century before being martyred. Odon, Count of Fezensac, founded a Benedictine monastery on this site After 960 AD. In 1088, the m ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Eauze, France

Lectoure Cathedral

The former Lectoure Cathedral dominates the town and the belfry tower of 1488 can be seen at a distance as the town is approached. The repairs and modifications of the cathedral go back to the 12th century. The unadorned west front erected in the 15th century has been modified through the ages, and niches above the door have all but melted away due to the fragility of the limestone. The nave was vaulted at the end of th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Lectoure, France

Lombez Cathedral

Lombez Cathedral is a brick church with an ornate pink-and-white five-tiered octagonal bell tower constructed c. 1346. A plaque to the right of the plain west entrance records the visit of the Italian poet Petrarch in 1330, arranged by the bishop, Jacques Colonna (1328–41), also of Italian extraction, who made Petrarch an honorary canon in 1335. The typical blank west façade of meridional Gothic is relieved only by ...
Founded: c. 1346 | Location: Lombez, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Royal Palace of Aranjuez

Palacio Real de Aranjuez is a former Spanish royal residence. It was established around the time Philip II of Spain moved the capital from Toledo to Madrid. Aranjuez became one of four seasonal seats of government, occupied during the springtime (from about holy week). Thereafter, the court moved successively to Rascafría, El Escorial and wintered in Madrid. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After the Christian conquest, Aranjuez was owned by the Order of Santiago and a palace was built for its Grand Masters where the Royal Palace stands today. When the Catholic Monarchs assumed the office of Grand Master of the Order of Santiago, Aranjuez became part of the Royal estate. This fertile land, located between the Tajo and Jarama Rivers, was converted into the Spanish monarchy"s most lavish country retreat: during Spain"s Golden Age, Aranjuez became a symbol for the perfection of nature by mortal hands, as El Escorial was for art.

Such excellence was based on strong Renaissance foundations, as Charles V envisaged this inherited estate as a large Italian-inspired villa, a desire continued by Philip II who appointed Juan Bautista de Toledo to design leafy avenues that ran through the gardens and farming land. A series of dams was constructed in the 16th century to control the course of the Tajo River and create a network of irrigation canals.

The splendour of the estate was only enhanced by the Bourbon monarchs, who would spend the whole spring, from Easter to July, at the Palace. Phillip V added new gardens and Ferdinand VI designed a new system of tree-lined streets and created a small village within the estate, which was further developed by Charles III and Charles IV. As Ferdinand VII and Isabella II continued to visit Aranjuez during the spring, the splendour of this site was maintained until 1870.

The Royal Palace, built by Phillip II on the site of the old palace of the Grand Masters of Santiago, was designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo –under whom construction began in 1564– and later Juan Herrera, who only managed to finish half the project. Although glimpses of the original layout still remain, the building itself is more characteristic of the classicism favoured by the Hapsburg monarchs, with alternating white stone and brick. The original design was continued by Phillip V in 1715 but not finished until 1752 under Ferdinand VI. The rectangular layout that Juan Bautista de Toledo had planned, and that took two centuries to complete, was only maintained for 20 years, since in 1775 Charles III added two wings onto the Palace.

Real Casa del Labrador

As the Prince of Asturias, Charles IV was a frequent visitor to the pier pavilions built by Ferdinand VI and grew up playing in the Prince’s Garden. When he became King, he decided to build a new country house at the far end of these gardens, known as the Casa del Labrador (the labourer"s house) due to its modest exterior that was designed to heavily contrast the magnificent internal decor. It was built by chief architect Juan de Villanueva and his pupil Isidro González Velázquez, who designed some of the interior spaces. These rooms, developed in various stages until 1808, are the greatest example of the lavish interior decor favoured by this monarch in his palaces and country retreats. Highlights at this Site include the combination of different types of art and the luxurious textiles, in particular the silks from Lyon, as well as wealth of original works on the main floor, where Ferdinand VII added various paintings and landscapes by Brambilla.

King"s Garden, the Island Garden, Parterre Garden and the Prince"s Garden

Phillip II, a great lover of gardens, paid special attention to this feature of the Aranjuez Palace: during his reign, he maintained both the Island Garden, designed by the architect Juan Bautista de Toledo, and the King"s Garden, immediately adjacent to the Palace and whose current layout was designed by Philip IV. The majority of the fountains on this island were commissioned by Phillip IV, while the Bourbons added other features such as the Charles III benches.

Phillip V made two French-style additions to the existing gardens: the Parterre Garden in front of the palace and the extension at the far end of the Island Garden, known as the Little Island, where he installed the Tritons Fountain that was later moved to the Campo del Moro park by Isabella II.

The Prince"s Garden owes its name and creation to the son and heir of Charles III who, in the 1770s, began to use Ferdinand VI"s old pier for his own enjoyment. He also created a landscaped garden in the Anglo-French style that was in fashion at the time and which was directly influenced by Marie Antoinette"s gardens at the Petit Trianon. Both Juan de Villanueva and Pablo Boutelou collaborated in the design of this garden.