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.

References:
  • Eyewitness Travel Guide: Loire Valley. 2007
  • Wikipedia

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Details

Founded: 1195-1260
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Frank C (10 months ago)
very detailed gothic church, dark inside, beautiful stained glass windows
Patrice Touraine (11 months ago)
Incredible building typically gothic... Great surroundings to visit during summer time
S Foroughi (12 months ago)
This is an awesome place, like a gem not found yet by the tourists! You can visit crypt and tower. (See the picture attached for hours) There is also a lovely garden attached to it.
Edward (13 months ago)
The Cathedral of St Etienne of Bourges, built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art and is admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. The tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass windows are particularly striking. Apart from the beauty of the architecture, it attests to the power of Christianity in medieval France.
Paola Scarpini (14 months ago)
This medieval cathedral seems to rise out of nowhere as you turn the last corner upon approach. It's very hard to describe its beauty: not only its architecture is breathtaking but its stained glass are a superb masterpiece. We couldn't climb the tower, because we lacked the time, but we visited the crypt with a guided tour (the guided tour is compulsory to visit the crypt but it's worth every penny) and it was amazing. The guide gave us a detailed history of the cathedral and the works stored in the crypt. If you are in the region, this is a must-see.
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