Bourges Cathedral

Bourges, France

Bourges Cathedral of St. Etiénne, one of the finest Gothic cathedrals, was built mainly between 1195 and 1260. The unknown architect designed it without transepts, which, combined with the interior’s unusual height and width, makes it seem much lighter than most Gothic cathedrals. Structural problems with the South tower led to the building of the adjoining buttress tower in the mid-14th century. The North tower was completed around the end of the 15th century but collapsed in 1506, destroying the Northern portion of the facade in the process. The North tower and its portal were subsequently rebuilt in a more contemporary style.

Important figures in the life of the cathedral during the 13th century include William of Donjeon who was Archbishop from 1200 until his death in 1209 (and was canonised by the Pope in 1218 as St William of Bourges) as well as his grandson, Philip Berruyer (archbishop 1236-61), who oversaw the later stages of construction.

Following the destruction of much of the Ducal Palace and its chapel during the revolution, the tomb effigy of Duke Jean de Berry was relocated to the Cathedral's crypt, along with some stained glass panels showing standing prophets, which were designed for the chapel by André Beauneveu.

Generally the cathedral suffered far less than some of its peers during the French Wars of Religion and in the Revolution. Its location meant it was also relatively safe from the ravages of both World Wars.

The cathedral was added to the list of the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1992.

  • Eyewitness Travel Guide: Loire Valley. 2007
  • Wikipedia


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Founded: 1195-1260
Category: Religious sites in France


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