Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral was formerly the seat of the Bishop of Saint-Pol-de-Léon, a bishopric established in the 6th century and abolished under the Concordat of 1801, when its territory was transferred to the Diocese of Quimper.
It is dedicated to its 6th-century founder, the first bishop Saint Paul Aurelian. He was originally from Wales and he is considered to have been the first bishop of the Léon area.
Built on the site of an ancient Roman church, some vestiges of which still exist. This great monument has been constructed in several stages. The present building however, although on the same site, was built in the 13th century (with later additions). The facade with its two high towers and the remarkable nave from the 13th century made of limestone from Caen, limestone demonstrate this stylistic and economical heritage from Normandy. The western façade and the south porch date back from the 13th century whereas the chancel (choir made of granite) and the transept are from the beginning of the 15th century. The cathedral was completed in the second half of the 16th century (the ambulatory and the southern chapel). It also has an ensemble which is almost unique in Brittany
The 50-metre spires are from the end of the 14th century. In the 16th century, side chapels gave it its definitive stature. The cathedral is 80 metres long in total, 16-metre height under the vaults and 44 metres wide with the transepts. In the north tower, there are three bells which date from more than three centuries ago, including the oldest bourden bell in Brittany, which weights more than 2 tonnes, and was cast in 1563.
Beyond its great architectural significance, the cathedral shelters a multitude of unusual artistic curiosities. The great organ in the cathedral was built between 1657 and 1660 by the English refugees Robert and Thomas Dallam. It is composed of 2118 pipes and it is listed. There are also relics, amongst them Paul Aurélien Celtic bell, one of the oldest Carolingian bell in Brittany and, in a crystal tube, a thorn from the Christ crown. The interesting detail are also 32 boxes containing skulls, a reminder of the custom in use until the 19th century, which consisted in exhuming the skeletons after five years in order to make room to the new deceased. The bones were carefully laid down in the charnel house and the skulls were locked up in small pierced boxes and they were then handed over to the families.There is also a a Roman sarcophagus which is thought to be the sepulture of Conan Mériadec, first Christian king of Brittany, who died in 421.References:
The first historical record of Lednice locality dates from 1222. At that time there stood a Gothic fort with courtyard, which was lent by Czech King Václav I to Austrian nobleman Sigfried Sirotek in 1249.
At the end of the 13th century the Liechtensteins, originally from Styria, became holders of all of Lednice and of nearby Mikulov. They gradually acquired land on both sides of the Moravian-Austrian border. Members of the family most often found fame in military service, during the Renaissance they expanded their estates through economic activity. From the middle of the 15th century members of the family occupied the highest offices in the land. However, the family’s position in Moravia really changed under the brothers Karel, Maximilian, and Gundakar of Liechtenstein. Through marriage Karel and Maximilian acquired the great wealth of the old Moravian dynasty of the Černohorskýs of Boskovice. At that time the brothers, like their father and grandfather, were Lutheran, but they soon converted to Catholicism, thus preparing the ground for their rise in politics. Particularly Karel, who served at the court of Emperor Rudolf II, became hetman of Moravia in 1608, and was later raised to princely status by King Matyas II and awarded the Duchy of Opava.
During the revolt of the Czech nobility he stood on the side of the Habsburgs, and took part in the Battle of White Mountain. After the uprising was defeated in 1620 he systematically acquired property confiscated from some of the rebels, and the Liechtensteins became the wealthiest family in Moravia, rising in status above the Žerotíns. Their enormous land holdings brought them great profits, and eventually allowed them to carry out their grandious building projects here in Lednice.
In the 16th century it was probably Hartmann II of Liechtenstein who had the old medieval water castle torn down and replaced with a Renaissance chateau. At the end of the 17th century the chateau was torn down and a Baroque palace was built, with an extensive formal garden, and a massive riding hall designed by Johann Bernard Fischer von Erlach that still stands in almost unaltered form.
In the mid-18th century the chateau was again renovated, and in 1815 its front tracts that had been part of the Baroque chateau were removed.
The chateau as it looks today dates from 1846-1858, when Prince Alois II decided that Vienna was not suitable for entertaining in the summer, and had Lednice rebuilt into a summer palace in the spirit of English Gothic. The hall on the ground floor would serve to entertain the European aristocracy at sumptuous banquets, and was furnished with carved wood ceilings, wooden panelling, and select furniture, surpassing anything of its kind in Europe.