St. Trophime Church

Arles, France

The Church of St. Trophime (Trophimus) is former cathedral built between the 12th century and the 15th century in the city centre of Arles. According to legend, Trophimus of Arles becomes the first bishop of Arles around 250 AD.

The church was built upon the site of the 5th century basilica of Arles, named for St. Stephen. The apse and the transept were probably built first, in the late 11th century, and the nave and bell tower were completed in the second quarter of the 12th century. The Romaneque church had a long central nave 20 meters high. The windows are small and high up on the nave, above the level of the collateral aisles. In the 15th century a Gothic choir was added to the Romanesque nave.

St. Trophime is an important example of Romanesque architecture, and the sculptures over the portal, particularly the Last Judgement, and the columns in the adjacent cloister, are considered some of the finest examples of Romanesque sculpture.

Though mainly notable for its outstanding Romanesque architecture and sculpture, the church contains rich groups of art from other periods. These include several important carved Late Roman sarcophagi, reliquaries from various periods, and Baroque paintings, with three by Louis Finson. Trophime Bigot is also represented, and there are several Baroque tapestries, including a set of ten on the Life of the Virgin. The church has been used to hold items originally from other churches or religious houses in the region that were dispersed in the French Revolution or at other times.

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Details

Founded: c. 1100
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Benjamin Hirsch (11 months ago)
Very well preserved church and monastery
Carmen Lo (2 years ago)
Beautiful historical chruch, great stone carving in front of main entrance. It's just next to Hotel De Ville, that's the city hall of Arles.
Francesco Cerlini (2 years ago)
A nice church in center city. Visit also the cloister next door and the town hall.
Yair Bar Zohar (2 years ago)
The church, built in the 11th-12th centuries on the site of an earlier church, is a great example of Romanesque architecture. The church is named after one of the earliest bishops of Earl. Along with other Roman structures in the Earl, the church entered the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The interior of the church is less impressive than the outside, but if you are already here, you can take a moment to look inside the church.
Mladen Matijas (2 years ago)
So let’s be honest. Arles is best visited in summer, and for me, during the Arles Photo Festival in July. Then all the churches are used as gallery spaces. It’s when this church becomes interesting. I wouldn’t say this church is huge (some of the comments by other visitors).
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Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).