Religious sites in 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

St. Andrew's Church

St. Andrew"s Church is a neo-Gothic parish church in central Bayonne. The church was designed by architects Hippolyte Durand and Hippolyte Guichenné and built in the neo-Gothic style between 1856 and 1869, under Napoléon III"s reign. It was built on the site of a former Jansenist high school. Its construction was mainly funded by a bequest from banker Jacques Taurin de Lormand, who died in 1847. The town counc ...
Founded: 1856-1869 | Location: Bayonne, France

Basilica of Our Lady of Brebières

The Basilica of Our Lady of Brebières is a Roman Catholic Basilica designed by Edmond Duthoit in 1897. The structure was completely destroyed during shelling in World War I and rebuilt by the original architect"s son Louis Duthoit from 1927 to 1931. The Golden Virgin sculpture deisigned by Albert Roze sits atop the dome of the Basilica and became an object of fascination during World War I. Pope Leo XIII granted a ...
Founded: 1927-1931 | Location: Albert, 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

Noyon Cathedral

Noyon Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Noyon) is a Roman Catholic church and former cathedral. It was formerly the seat of the Bishopric of Noyon, abolished by the Concordat of 1801 and merged into the Diocese of Beauvais. The cathedral was constructed on the site of a church burned down in 1131 and is a fine example of the transition from Romanesque to Gothic architecture. In plan it is a Latin cross, with a total ...
Founded: 1131-1185 | Location: Noyon, 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

Basilica of Saint Severinus

The Basilica of Saint Severinus is built upon a Christian necropolis dating to the 4th century CE. The epitaph of Flavinus was engraved beneath a representation of a chrism on the lid of a sarcophagus dating to between 365 and 385 CE, testifying to the Christian presence in Bordeaux to Late Antiquity. Today, it is housed in the Museum of Aquitaine in Bordeaux. At the beginning of the 11th century, the canons of the basil ...
Founded: 11th century | Location: Bordeaux, 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

Dax Cathedral

Dax Cathedral has been the the bishop"s seat officially since 1833 when it was transferred from Aire Cathedral. In the late 13th century, when the town of Dax was at the height of its prosperity, the bishops had a number of ecclesiastical buildings constructed, among which was a new cathedral on the site of an ancient Romanesque sanctuary which had become too cramped. This Gothic structure collapsed in 1646; all that ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Dax, 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 built in 1544. T ...
Founded: 1697 | Location: Blois, France

Grande-Sauve Abbey

Grande-Sauve Abbey or Sauve-Majeure Abbey is a former Benedictine monastery near the present village of La Sauve. Although now in ruins, the remains of the abbey are still of great interest in terms of Romanesque architecture, especially because of the many sculpted capitals still surviving. In 1998 the abbey ruins were included as part of the UNESCO world heritage site of the pilgrimage route to St. James of Compostela. ...
Founded: 1079 | Location: La Sauve, France

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Petersberg Citadel

The Petersberg Citadel is one of the largest extant early-modern citadels in Europe and covers the whole north-western part of the Erfurt city centre. It was built after 1665 on Petersberg hill and was in military use until 1963. It dates from a time when Erfurt was ruled by the Electors of Mainz and is a unique example of the European style of fortress construction. Beneath the citadel is an underground maze of passageways that can be visited on guided tours organised by Erfurt Tourist Office.

The citadel was originally built on the site of a medieval Benedictine Monastery and the earliest parts of the complex date from the 12th century. Erfurt has also been ruled by Sweden, Prussia, Napoleon, the German Empire, the Nazis, and post-World War II Soviet occupying forces, and it was part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany). All of these regimes used Petersberg Citadel and had an influence on its development. The baroque fortress was in military use until 1963. Since German reunification in 1990, the citadel has undergone significant restoration and it is now open to the public as a historic site.