Soissons Cathedral

Soissons, France

The construction of the Gothic Soissons Cathedral south transept was begun about 1177, and the lowest courses of the choir in 1182. The choir with its original three-storey elevation and extremely tall clerestory was completed in 1211. This was earlier than Chartres, on which the design was supposed to have been based. Work then continued into the nave until the late 13th century.

The single western tower dates from the mid-13th century and is an imitation of those of Notre Dame de Paris, which it equals in height. The tower was restored after it and part of the nave were severely damaged in World War I. A matching tower on the other side of the façade was originally planned, but never built.

The graceful southern transept, the oldest portion of the whole edifice, terminates in an apse. Unlike the rest of the building, it is divided inside into four (rather than three) levels.

The choir end of the cathedral has stained glass from the 13th century. A tapestry from the 15th century depicts the life of the martyrs Gervasius and Protasius, the patron saints of the cathedral. Rubens' Adoration of the Shepherds hangs in the northern transept, as does a painting by Philippe de Champaigne.



Your name


Founded: 1177
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

TheEvdriver (3 years ago)
We pay a longer visit to the cathedral, which is scaffolded from the outside. The mighty, almost 9m measuring rose window was pressed out by a bad winter storm a few years ago and fell into the church. Today the restoration is in full swing. The cathedral combines different building epochs of the Gothic and was redesigned several times during its long construction period (start of construction 1176, completion 13th century). This can be seen, for example, in the transept that was created in the first phase, which is more typically early Gothic and consists of 4 "floors" of arches, columns and windows. (In contrast to a three-story structure in the entire rest of the church) Later during the construction, the decision was made to tear down the already finished choir again, because it seemed too faint-hearted and to replace it with a more splendid building. So you see, a wonderful mess of: we stop the work here and continue there and so on. In the overall picture, this is also noticeable on closer inspection of the little things. The two side aisles are actually crooked in the connecting arches to the transept in order to make the connection. We have never seen that before.
Neil R G Fudge (3 years ago)
Typical local Cathedral in France, rebuilt after the First World War with stones from a monastery close by.
Luuk Akkerman (4 years ago)
Currently being partly under restoration in the outside. Still open for visits. No fees.
John Farrow (5 years ago)
Small cathedral off the beaten tourist track. Very down-to-earth with few airs and graces. Spent a good quarter of an hour chatting with the verger. Lovely visit.
Clemens Janse (5 years ago)
Great cathedral. Very big and beautiful building.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Hohenwerfen Castle

Hohenwerfen Castle stands high above the Austrian town of Werfen in the Salzach valley. The castle is surrounded by the Berchtesgaden Alps and the adjacent Tennengebirge mountain range. The fortification is a 'sister' of Hohensalzburg Castle both dated from the 11th century.

The former fortification was built between 1075 and 1078 during the Imperial Investiture Controversy by the order of Archbishop Gebhard of Salzburg as a strategic bulwark. Gebhard, an ally of Pope Gregory VII and the anti-king Rudolf of Rheinfelden, had three major castles extended to secure the Salzburg archbishopric against the forces of King Henry IV: Hohenwerfen, Hohensalzburg and Petersberg Castle at Friesach in Carinthia.