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 city walls of Avila were built in the 11th century to protect the citizens from the Moors. They have been well maintained throughout the centuries and are now a major tourist attraction as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can walk around about half of the length of the walls.
The layout of the city is an even quadrilateral with a perimeter of 2,516 m. Its walls, which consist in part of stones already used in earlier constructions, have an average thickness of 3 m. Access to the city is afforded by nine gates of different periods; twin 20 m high towers, linked by a semi-circular arch, flank the oldest ones, Puerta de San Vicente and Puerta del Alcázar.