Cathedrals in 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

Alès Cathedral

Alès was formerly a centre of the Huguenots and was taken only after a long siege by Louis XIII in 1627. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Alès was established here in 1694, at which time the construction of the cathedral began, but was not restored after the French Revolution: by the Concordat of 1801 its parishes were divided between the dioceses of Avignon and Mende. Alès and its cathedral lie near th ...
Founded: 1694 | Location: Alès, France

Saint-Pons-de-Thomières Cathedral

Saint-Pons-de-Thomières Cathedral was formerly the seat of the Bishopric of Saint-Pons, founded like a number of bishoprics in the region in the aftermath of the suppression of the Albigensians. By a Papal bull dated 18 February 1318, Pope John XXII created the see by elevating the abbey of Saint-Pons, which had been here since its foundation in 936 by Raymond, Count of Toulouse. The bishopric was abolished by the Concor ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saint-Pons-de-Thomières, 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

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

Aleth Cathedral Ruins

Aleth was a Gallo-Roman settlement on a peninsula on one side of the Rance estuary. The bishopric was established in the 9th century. Aleth Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre d"Aleth) was destroyed by Norman invaders in the 10th century but later rebuilt. The site of Aleth however was not a secure one and the town of Saint-Malo had begun to grow up on a far more defensible site on a rocky islet in the estuary ...
Founded: 920 AD | Location: Saint-Malo, 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

Pamiers Cathedral

Pamiers Cathedral is dedicated to Antoninus of Pamiers. The oldest part is the entrance dating from the 12th century with some carved capital stones depicting biblical characters. The remainder of the cathedral is more recent having been reconstructed and modified over the centuries - for example, the outer part of the entrance (the stone arches) and the belltower were added in the 14th century, the main body of the cathe ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Pamiers, France

Choisy Cathedral

Choisy Cathedral, otherwise known as the Church of St. Louis and St. Nicholas, was the first cathedral of the diocese of Créteil, from 1966, when the diocese was created, to 1987, when the present Créteil Cathedral was inaugurated. The church was built by the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel under commission from Louis XV to provide a suitable place of worship for the court when the king was staying at his ne ...
Founded: 1748-1760 | Location: Choisy-le-Roi, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.