Metz Cathedral

Metz, France

Saint-Étienne de Metz, also known as Metz Cathedral, is built on the site of an ancient the 5th century church dedicated to Saint Stephen protomartyr. According to Gregory of Tours, the shrine of Saint Stephen was the sole structure spared during the sack of 451 by Attila's Huns. The construction of the Gothic cathedral began in 1220 within the walls of an Ottonian basilica dating from the 10th century. The integration into the cathedral's ground plan of a Gothic chapel from the 12th century at the western end resulted in the absence of a main western portal; the south-western porch of the cathedral being the entrance of the former chapel. The work was completed around 1520 and the new cathedral was consecrated on 11 April 1552.

In 1755, French architect Jacques-François Blondel was awarded by the Royal Academy of Architecture to built a Neoclassical portal at the West end of the cathedral. He disengaged the cathedral's facade by razing an adjacent cloister and three attached churches and achieved the westwork in 1764.

In 1877, the Saint-Stephen of Metz was heavily damaged after a conflagration due to fireworks. After this incident, it was decided the refurbishment of the cathedral and its adornments within a Neogothic style. The western facade was completely rebuilt between 1898 and 1903; the Blondel's portal was demolished and a new Neogothic portal was added.

The cathedral treasury exhibits the millennium rich collection of the Bishopric of Metz, including paraments and items used for the Eucharist.

Saint-Stephen of Metz has one of the highest naves in the world and the largest expanse of stained glass in the world with 6,496 m2. Those stained glass windows include works by Gothic and Renaissance master glass makers Hermann von Münster, Theobald of Lixheim, and Valentin Bousch and romantic Charles-Laurent Maréchal, tachist Roger Bissière, cubist Jacques Villon, and modernist Marc Chagall.

Saint-Stephen Cathedral is a Rayonnant Gothic edifice built with the local yellow Jaumont limestone. Like in French Gothic architecture, the building is compact, with slight projection of the transepts and subsidiary chapels. However, it displays singular, distinctive characteristics in both its ground plan and architecture compared to most of the other cathedrals. Because of topography of Moselle valley in Metz, the common west-east axis of the ground plan could not be applied and the church is oriented north-northeast. Moreover, unlike the French and German Gothic cathedrals having three portals surmounted by a rose window and two large towers, Saint-Stephen of Metz has a single porch at its western facade. One enters laterally in the edifice by another portal placed at the south-western side of the narthex, declining the usual alignment of the entrance with the choir.

The nave is supported by flying buttresses and culminates at 41.41 metres high, making one of the highest naves in the world. The height of the nave is contrasted by the relatively low height of the aisles with 14.3 metres high, reinforcing the sensation of tallness of the nave. This feature permitted the architects to create large, tall expanses of stained glass. Through its history, Saint-Stephen Cathedral was subjected to architectural and ornamental modifications with successive additions of Neoclassical and Neogothic elements.

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Address

Place d'Armes 5001, Metz, France
See all sites in Metz

Details

Founded: 1220
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

jima roddrigo (17 months ago)
Amazing architecture and very big church.
Lilian Jay (17 months ago)
The place was lively during Christmas season. Beautiful view..
Ricardo Cantu (17 months ago)
This was visit was part of our European tour which consisted of visiting as many large, historic, medival cathedral. Beautiful, quiet, enchanting, and breathtaking cathedral with so much history. A must add to your European tour. Metz is a beautiful and medival city that offers so much more.
Robin Bobin (2 years ago)
Very impressed and highly recommended inside and outside! If you have some time to the local sightseeing do not waste your time =) In fact slightly walking you can see a lot of interesting places.
Frank Wils (2 years ago)
One of the most beautiful French Gothic cathedrals. Both the decorations and detailed architecture outside as well as the dark inside are worth seeing. Inside are lots of beautiful glass-stained windows from different periods, but mostly in darker colours. This gives the Cathedral an almost intimate feeling, no matter the size. Extra noteworthy are a couple of Windows designed and painted by famous artist Marc Chagall.
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