Religious sites in 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

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

Church of St. Julien

This 13th century church was built on the site of an earlier building – a church dating from the 6th century. An austere exterior masks a gothic interior that does not have the ornate grandeur of the Cathedral St Gatien but is still imposing.
Founded: 1224 | Location: Tours, France

Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains

The Basilica of Saint-Pierre-Aux-Nonnains is one of the oldest Christian churches in the world still standing. Erected sometime in the 4th century AD, it was originally part of a Roman-era spa when Divodurum, the former name of Metz, was a major military and trade center along the Germanic frontier. Specifically it was used as a pagan gymnasium when Christianity in Western Europe was still in its infancy. It was one of th ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Metz, 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

Montmajour Abbey

Montmajour Abbey was a fortified Benedictine monastery built between the 10th and 18th centuries. Until the late Middle Ages, Montmajour was an island, 43 meters above the surrounding terrain, protected by marshes and accessible only by boat. As early as the 3rd millennium BC the island was used as a cemetery, with individual graves carved into the rock. In the 9th and 10th centuries the island also served as a sanctuary ...
Founded: 963 AD | Location: Arles, 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

Basilica of Saint-Martin d'Ainay

The Basilica of Saint-Martin d"Ainay is a Romanesque church in the historic centre of Lyon. Legendary origins of a remarkably large church, which may once have stood on this site, are noted by Gregory of Tours. A Benedictine priory was founded on the Lyon peninsula in 859. When later it was raised to the rank of an abbey, major building works began: the abbey church was built at the end of the 11th century under Abb ...
Founded: c. 1100 | Location: Lyon, France

Abbey Church of Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe

The Romanesque Abbey church was constructed in the mid-11th century and contains many beautiful 11th- and 12th-century murals which are still in a remarkable state of preservation. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983. The cruciform church carries a square tower over its crossing. The transept was built first, then the choir with its ambulatory with five radial chapels in the polygonal apse. In the next bu ...
Founded: c. 1050 | Location: Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe, France

Saint Symphorien's Church

The church dedicated to Saint Symphorien near the Azay-le-Rideau château that is interesting for the number of architectural periods incorporated in its design. While the newest portion dates from 1603, the current façade incorporates an older 9th century façade in the Carolingian style. The original carved figures are still visible, though an added window destroyed part of the second row. The rest of ...
Founded: 9th century | Location: Azay-le-Rideau, 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

Abbey of Saint-Gilles

The Abbey of Saint-Gilles is included in the UNESCO Heritage List, as part of the World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. According to the legend, it was founded in the 7th century by saint Giles, over lands which had been given him by the Visigoth King Wamba after he had involuntarily wounded the saint during a hunt. The monastery was initially dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul: however, ...
Founded: 7th century | Location: Saint-Gilles, France

Sainte-Madeleine Church

The Sainte-Madeleine Church was built in Gothic style in the late 15th century, but largely rebuilt in a style close to Jugendstil after a devastating fire in 1904. Destroyed again during World War II, the church was re-constructed in its modern form. This is the fourth building dedicated to Mary Magdalene built in the city since the 13th century. The church is classified as a historic monument by a decree of 6 December 1 ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Strasbourg, France

Le Thoronet Abbey

Le Thoronet Abbey, sited between the towns of Draguignan and Brignoles, is one of the best examples of the spirit of the Cistercian order. Even the acoustics of the church imposed a certain discipline upon the monks; because of the stone walls, which created a long echo, the monks were forced to sing slowly and perfectly together. The monks move from Floriéges to Le Thoronet around 1176 and founded a new monastery t ...
Founded: 1176 | Location: Le Thoronet, 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

St. Peter's Church

The church dedicated to St.Peter (Eglise St-Pierre) was built in the late 12th century. The façade rebuilt in the 17th century  hides a Plantagenet Gothic building where occasional organ recitals are given. Two rooms of 16th century  tapestries are on view here from Easter to All Saints' Day. Its treasures include also beautifully carved 15th-century wooden stalls in the choir.
Founded: 12th century | Location: Saumur, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hochosterwitz Castle

Hochosterwitz Castle is considered to be one of Austria's most impressive medieval castles. The rock castle is one of the state's landmarks and a major tourist attraction.

The site was first mentioned in an 860 deed issued by King Louis the German of East Francia, donating several of his properties in the former Principality of Carantania to the Archdiocese of Salzburg. In the 11th century Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg ceded the castle to the Dukes of Carinthia from the noble House of Sponheim in return for their support during the Investiture Controversy. The Sponheim dukes bestowed the fiefdom upon the family of Osterwitz, who held the hereditary office of the cup-bearer in 1209.

In the 15th century, the last Carinthian cup-bearer, Georg of Osterwitz was captured in a Turkish invasion and died in 1476 in prison without leaving descendants. So after four centuries, on 30 May 1478, the possession of the castle reverted to Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg.

Over the next 30 years, the castle was badly damaged by numerous Turkish campaigns. On 5 October 1509, Emperor Maximilian I handed the castle as a pledge to Matthäus Lang von Wellenburg, then Bishop of Gurk. Bishop Lang undertook a substantial renovation project for the damaged castle.

About 1541, German king Ferdinand I of Habsburg bestowed Hochosterwitz upon the Carinthian governor Christof Khevenhüller. In 1571, Baron George Khevenhüller acquired the citadel by purchase. He fortified to deal with the threat of Turkish invasions of the region, building an armory and 14 gates between 1570 and 1586. Such massive fortification is considered unique in citadel construction.

Since the 16th century, no major changes have been made to Hochosterwitz. It has also remained in the possession of the Khevenhüller family as requested by the original builder, George Khevenhüller. A marble plaque dating from 1576 in the castle yard documents this request.

A specific feature is the access way to the castle passing through a total of 14 gates, which are particularly prominent owing to the castle's situation in the landscape. Tourists are allowed to walk the 620-metre long pathway through the gates up to the castle; each gate has a diagram of the defense mechanism used to seal that particular gate. The castle rooms hold a collection of prehistoric artifacts, paintings, weapons, and armor, including one set of armor 2.4 metres tall, once worn by Burghauptmann Schenk.