Tours Cathedral

Tours, France

Saint Gatien's Cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547. The first cathedral of Saint-Maurice was built by Litorius (Lidoire), bishop of Tours from 337 to 371 (preceding St Martin). Burnt in 561, it was restored by Gregory of Tours and rededicated in 590. Its location, at the south-west angle of the castrum, as well as its eastern orientation, resulted in the original access being through the late-Roman surrounding wall (such a configuration is quite rare). The cathedral was then rebuilt during the second quarter of the 12th century and again burnt in 1166 during the conflict between Louis VII of France and Henry II of England.

The first phase of present cathedral concerned the south transept and the towers, as early as 1170. The chancel was rebuilt from 1236 to 1279 by Étienne de Mortagne but the nave took much longer to build. The architect Simon du Mans rebuilt the transept and started the nave, including six spans, aisle and chapel, built during the 14th century — the first two spans correspond to those of the old Romanesque cathedral and date back to the 12th century. The nave was only finished during the 15th century by architects Jean de Dammartin, Jean Papin and Jean Durand, thanks to the generosity of Charles VII and the Duke of Brittany Jean V.

While building the present cathedral, the nave was then extended westward and the towers surrounding its entrance were erected during the first half of the 16th century, the first tower in 1507 by Pierre de Valence 87 m high, and the second tower during 1534 and 1547 by Pierre Gadier. Highlighting the special feature of the building, called supra, the towers were erected outside of the old city. The late-Roman surrounding wall is visible in cross section at the rear of the towers from the north.

In 1356, the cathedral received its new name of saint Gatien. Its construction having been particularly slow, it presents a complex pattern of French religious types of architecture from the 13th century to the 15th. For example, the tower buttresses are Romanesque, the ornamentation generally is pure Gothic, and the tops of the towers are Renaissance (beginning of the 16th century).

The organ, donated by Archbishop Martin de Beaune, was built by Barnabé Delanoue in the 16th century. One can also see, in the cathedral, the tomb of the children of Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany, who died as infants. This tomb, in Carrara marble, made by Girolamo da Fiesole, in the Italian style, and whose recumbent statues are reminiscent of 15th-century French medieval tradition (school of Michel Colombe), was kept since 1506 in Saint-Martin de Tours before being moved in 1834 to Saint-Gatien.

To the north of the cathedral is a small cloister, also built during the Renaissance. To the south of the cathedral is the former archbishop's palace, built in the early 18th century, which has now become the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours.

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Address

Rue Lavoisier 22, Tours, France
See all sites in Tours

Details

Founded: 1170-1547
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Douglas Wong (10 months ago)
Fantastic Gothic so tall it's remarkable. Window panes so beautiful many are biblical stories. Lots of paintings. Must visit.
Mark Playle (11 months ago)
One of the most beautiful we have seen.
Anthony Muljadi (12 months ago)
Beautiful cathedral! Love the stained glass and front facade!
Ryan Pearce (13 months ago)
The lightshow was amasing! Would love to see it again! Especially the ending when the music starts to play! There are two performances per night throughout the summer, but the start time changes. I would recommend checking the times on the notice board in front of the church.
MissSJ (15 months ago)
1) Look at the top of the twin tower. They have a pair of eyes and an angelic face that look like guardians of peace. 2) The ceiling of the huge entrance doors were made of different figurines. What an amazing layout! 3) The stained glass inside were really pretty. It is a must-visit place of interest in Tours. One of the best cathedral around inside and outside.
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