Aire Cathedral, dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, is located in the town of Aire-sur-l'Adour. It was the seat of the Bishops of Aire until the diocese was abolished in 1801 and again from 1822 when the diocese was restored; in 1857 it was renamed the Diocese of Aire and Dax. In 1933 the bishop moved to Dax, making Dax Cathedral his seat, when the cathedral at Aire became a co-cathedral.

The cathedral is situated in the lower town, where the bishops used to live. In origin a structure of the 11th and 12th centuries, it was subject to much alteration between the 14th and 17th centuries and its present appearance shows a variety of styles. The great rotunda on the chevet is especially noticeable. From the 12th century there remain three bays and an apse.

The severe 13th century façade, surmounted by a tower with a slate roof, has a simple vaulted portal with a pointed arch. The present sacristy is in origin a chapter house of the 14th century, with Gothic vaulting supported by central pillars; this is of Tolosan construction and evokes the 'palm trees' of the Dominicans. The nave has ogive vaults of the 14th century. The quire is flanked by four apsidioles giving onto the transept. The organs and side-altars are of the late 18th century, as are the stalls, the high altar and the rest of the handsome furnishings.

While the apse is being extended towards the park, the orangery, a stone building of the 17th century, is being used for temporary exhibitions.

The overall dimensions of the cathedral are 48 metres in length, 8 metres in width across the nave and 15 metres in height to the highest point of the vault.

Aire Cathedral marks a stage on the Via Podiensis, one of the pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James of Compostela, running from Le Puy-en-Velay to Santiago de Compostela via the Pass of Roncevaux.



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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

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User Reviews

Nad Nad (Nadnad) (2 months ago)
Very nice church
Le Grems (3 months ago)
The architecture is striking and magnificent. Beautiful weddings or tributes are celebrated there. To visit.
Maria-Paz Latorre Naval (6 months ago)
Very beautiful cathedral. especially its interior decoration with paintings on all the columns, arches, vaults etc... Nice surprise.
Bastien Thierry (14 months ago)
Very beautiful cathedral, I like to go there in the summer because it is cool inside
Axiien89 lfbv (15 months ago)
From the outside we are far from thinking that it is a cathedral but inside we understand better why it is one, sumptuous decorations.
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The Church of St Eustace was built between 1532-1632. St Eustace"s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.

The origins of Saint Eustache date back to 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby, as granted by King Philip Augustus. To thank such divine generosity, Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity, and it is believed that it was the transfer of a relic of Saint Eustache from the Abbey to Saint-Denis to the Church of Saint Eustache which resulted in its naming. Jeanne Baptiste d"Albert de Luynes was baptised here.

According to tourist literature on-site, during the French Revolution the church, like most churches in Paris, was desecrated, looted, and used for a time as a barn. The church was restored after the Revolution had run its course and remains in use today. Several impressive paintings by Rubens remain in the church today. Each summer, organ concerts commemorate the premieres of Berlioz’s Te Deum and Liszt’s Christus here in 1886.

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The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon. The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings.

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