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.

References:

Comments

Your name



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

Mireille Finnegan (5 months ago)
Would have be nice to have a few comments on the modern stainglass.
David Spörri (5 months ago)
One of the most amazing cathedrals I've sewn so far. Perhaps the most amazing. Must see if near Tours.
Sandra Pritchard (6 months ago)
We didn't go in, we just sat outside in the small square and enjoyed looking at the Cathedrale. It really is quite different on either side, took a moment or two to notice.
Robert L (7 months ago)
This is a beautiful Roman Catholic Cathedrale located in Tours. The architecture and the statues scattered all of the Cathedrale was breathtaking. We spent over an hour just exploring it and just appreciating the effort taken to build this amazing Cathedrale. It took over 350 years to build it. We didn't stay in Tours and this was just stop over. I wish we had more time to explore and spent more time here. I highly recommend you check it out, you won't regret it.
Jim Brooks (11 months ago)
This is a gorgeous Cathedral, with phenomenal stained glass windows. What is even more interesting is that many of the old buildings in the area especially those along the Loire were built on Roman foundations which are clearly visible.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Palazzo Colonna

The Palazzo Colonna is a palatial block of buildings built in part over ruins of an old Roman Serapeum, and has belonged to the prestigious Colonna family for over twenty generations.

The first part of the palace dates from the 13th century, and tradition holds that the building hosted Dante in his visit to Rome. The first documentary mention notes that the property hosted Cardinal Giovanni and Giacomo Colonna in the 13th century. It was also home to Cardinal Oddone Colonna before he ascended to the papacy as Martin V (1417–1431).

With his passing, the palace was sacked during feuds, and the main property passed into the hands of the Della Rovere family. It returned to the Colonna family when Marcantonio I Colonna married Lucrezia Gara Franciotti Della Rovere, the niece of pope Julius II. The Colonna"s alliance to the Habsburg power, likely protected the palace from looting during the Sack of Rome (1527).

Starting with Filippo Colonna (1578–1639) many changes have refurbished and create a unitary complex around a central garden. Architects including Girolamo Rainaldi and Paolo Marucelli labored on specific projects. Only in the 17th and 18th centuries were the main facades completed. Much of this design was completed by Antonio del Grande (including the grand gallery), and Girolamo Fontana (decoration of gallery). In the 18th century, the long low facade designed by Nicola Michetti with later additions by Paolo Posi with taller corner blocks (facing Piazza Apostoli) was constructed recalls earlier structures resembling a fortification.

The main gallery (completed 1703) and the masterful Colonna art collection was acquired after 1650 by both the cardinal Girolamo I Colonna and his nephew the Connestabile Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna and includes works by Lorenzo Monaco, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Palma the Elder, Salviati, Bronzino, Tintoretto, Pietro da Cortona, Annibale Carracci (painting of The Beaneater), Guercino, Francesco Albani, Muziano and Guido Reni. Ceiling frescoes by Filippo Gherardi, Giovanni Coli, Sebastiano Ricci, and Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari celebrate the role of Marcantonio II Colonna in the battle of Lepanto (1571). The gallery is open to the public on Saturday mornings.

The older wing of the complex known as the Princess Isabelle"s apartments, but once housing Martin V"s library and palace, contains frescoes by Pinturicchio, Antonio Tempesta, Crescenzio Onofri, Giacinto Gimignani, and Carlo Cesi. It contains a collection of landscapes and genre scenes by painters like Gaspard Dughet, Caspar Van Wittel (Vanvitelli), and Jan Brueghel the Elder.

Along with the possessions of the Doria-Pamphilij and Pallavacini-Rospigliosi families, this is one of the largest private art collections in Rome.