Aix Cathedral

Aix-en-Provence, France

Aix Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence is built on the site of the 1st-century Roman forum of Aix. Built and re-built from the 12th until the 19th century, it includes Romanesque, Gothic and Neo-Gothic elements, as well as Roman columns and parts of the baptistery from a 6th-century Christian church. It is a national monument of France.

According to the Christian tradition, the first church on the site was founded by Saint Maximinus of Aix, who arrived in Provence from Bethany, a village near Jerusalem, with Mary Magdalene on a boat belonging to Lazarus. Maximin built a modest chapel on the site of the present cathedral and dedicated it to the Holy Saviour (le Saint Sauveur). During the invasion of the Saracens in the 8th and 9th centuries, the original chapel of Saint-Sauveur was destroyed.

At the beginning of the 12th century, a new church was begun on the same site, with Romanesque walls bearing the three bays of a wide single nave. A second nave, dedicated to Saint Maximinus, was built in about 1165-1177 as the church of the canons, which was located between the first nave and the baptistery. The choir of this church ended in a flat chevet wall, which connected by a door with the Sainte-Chapelle, part of the original 6th century episcopal buildings. The chapel was rebuilt in the 12th century, and when the Gothic nave was added, was incorporated into the cathedral and became the oratory of the Saviour. It was destroyed in 1808.

At the end of the 12th century and beginning of the 13th century, Aix became the capital of Provence, and the city's population and importance grew rapidly. Religious orders began to arrive; the Franciscans first, then the Dominicans, Carmelites, and Augustinians, building new churches, monasteries and convents.

A surge of construction on the cathedral paralleled the growth of importance of Aix. Two new wings of the transept, built in the Gothic style, were begun in about 1285–1290, and finished in 1316. Bay by bay, the old Romanesque church was transformed into a Gothic cathedral.

The building of the new church was interrupted by the Black Death and then the Hundred Years' War. Work did not resume for 130 years, until 1472, when the last bay was built. The façade took another thirty years, and the last statues were not put in place until 1513, at the beginning of the Renaissance.

The most notable artwork in the cathedral is the Burning Bush Triptych by Nicolas Froment. The stone altar, originally installed in the church of the Carmelites in Aix, was placed in the cathedral in 1823.



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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

J_Gogo (10 months ago)
A cathedral hidden in the streets of Aix en Provence, but certainly full of beauty. Three naves with cross vaults, stained glass windows and huge chapels with very old and fine ornaments. Surely the altar makes a great impression together with the huge green organ.
John Brady (11 months ago)
Absolutely beautiful church. Sunday mass with the organ playing was amazing service. Google directions were perfect to get there.
thelma heikkinen (11 months ago)
Beautiful church! When you enter you are surprised by the size of the interior. The church had a lot of different sections and it really told a story.
Dave Rogalsky (13 months ago)
This building shows its history. It's old with many additions. The cloister (free guided tours in French every half hour) are derailed a d very interesting.
蕭育正 (2 years ago)
A special atmosphere inside the cathédrale! Calm and silence. With a good collection of art. Highly recommend to visit!
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