Lausanne Cathedral

Lausanne, Switzerland

Construction of the Lausanne Cathedral began in 1170. Twenty years later another master mason restarted construction until 1215. Finally a third engineer, Jean Cotereel, completed the majority of the existing cathedral including a porch, and two towers, one of which is the current day belfry. The other tower was never completed. The cathedral was consecrated and dedicated to Our Lady in 1275 by Pope Gregory X, Rudolph of Habsburg, and the bishop of Lausanne at the time, Guillaume of Champvent. The medieval architect Villard de Honnecourt drew the rose window of the south transept in his sketchbook in 1270.

The Protestant Reformation, a movement which came from Zurich, significantly affected the Cathedral. In 1536 a new liturgical area was added to the nave and the colourful decorations inside the Cathedral were covered over. Other major restorations occurred later in the 18th and 19th century which were directed by the great French architect, Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.

During the 20th century major restorations occurred to restore the painted interior decorations as well as to restore a painted portal on the South side of the Cathedral. New organs were installed in 2003.

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Details

Founded: 1170-1275
Category: Religious sites in Switzerland

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Paka Buraka (37 days ago)
Iconic cathedral with amazing view from the top of bell tower. Strict and interesting interior without pointless pomp of catholic churches.
Rohit Sahgal (46 days ago)
Sits on top of Lausanne and oversees the gorgeous lakeview and city. There's a nice city museum right next door.
Nicola Robinson (2 months ago)
Really beautiful cathedral. I would highly recommend going to visit you also have a great platform to view the whole city. If you also have time you can have a picnic on the grass/ benches available.
alex (2 months ago)
Wonderful building! Always so calm and a delight to the eyes. Perfect place to cool down in the summer and have a mindful moment all by yourself. They often host classical and religious music events. Must see.
Abel Gray (5 months ago)
Beautiful cathedral full of history. It is very well preserved, and during some renovations they uncovered some beautiful colors that were not expected. The stained glass windows are quite vivid, and the organ towers over the inside. For a small fee you can climb the tower to the top of the cathedral for an amazing view over the city and the larger area in general. At the top you can get up close and personal with the bells.
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Porta Nigra

The Porta Nigra (Latin for black gate) is the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps. It is designated as part of the Roman Monuments, Cathedral of St. Peter and Church of Our Lady in Trier UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name Porta Nigra originated in the Middle Ages due to the darkened colour of its stone; the original Roman name has not been preserved. Locals commonly refer to the Porta Nigra simply as Porta.

The Porta Nigra was built in grey sandstone between 186 and 200 AD. The original gate consisted of two four-storied towers, projecting as near semicircles on the outer side. A narrow courtyard separated the two gate openings on either side. For unknown reasons, however, the construction of the gate remained unfinished. For example, the stones at the northern (outer) side of the gate were never abraded, and the protruding stones would have made it impossible to install movable gates. Nonetheless, the gate was used for several centuries until the end of the Roman era in Trier.

In Roman times, the Porta Nigra was part of a system of four city gates, one of which stood at each side of the roughly rectangular Roman city. The Porta Nigra guarded the northern entry to the Roman city, while the Porta Alba (White Gate) was built in the east, the Porta Media (Middle Gate) in the south, and the Porta Inclyta (Famous Gate) in the west, next to the Roman bridge across the Moselle. The gates stood at the ends of the two main streets of the Roman Trier, one of which led north-south and the other east-west. Of these gates, only the Porta Nigra still exists today.

In the early Middle Ages the Roman city gates were no longer used for their original function and their stones were taken and reused for other buildings. Also iron and lead braces were broken out of the walls of the Porta Nigra for reuse. Traces of this destruction are still clearly visible on the north side of the gate.

After 1028, the Greek monk Simeon lived as a hermit in the ruins of the Porta Nigra. After his death (1035) and sanctification, the Simeonstift monastery was built next to the Porta Nigra to honor him. Saving it from further destruction, the Porta Nigra was transformed into a church: The inner court of the gate was roofed and intermediate ceilings were inserted. The two middle storeys of the former gate were converted into church naves: the upper storey being for the monks and the lower storey for the general public. The ground floor with the large gates was sealed, and a large outside staircase was constructed alongside the south side (the town side) of the gate, up to the lower storey of the church. A small staircase led further up to the upper storey. The church rooms were accessible through former windows of the western tower of the Porta Nigra that were enlarged to become entrance doors (still visible today). The top floor of the western tower was used as church tower, the eastern tower was leveled, and an apse added at its east side. An additional gate - the much smaller Simeon Gate - was built adjacent to the East side of the Porta Nigra and served as a city gate in medieval times.

In 1802 Napoleon Bonaparte dissolved the church in the Porta Nigra and the monastery beside it, along with the vast majority of Trier"s numerous churches and monasteries. On his visit to Trier in 1804, Napoleon ordered that the Porta Nigra be converted back to its Roman form. Only the apse was kept; but the eastern tower was not rebuilt to its original height. Local legend has it that Napoleon originally wanted to completely tear down the church, but locals convinced him that the church had actually been a Gaulish festival hall before being turned into a church. Another version of the story is that they told him about its Roman origins, persuading him to convert the gate back to its original form.

In 1986 the Porta Nigra was designated a World Heritage Site, along with other Roman monuments in Trier and its surroundings. The modern appearance of the Porta Nigra goes back almost unchanged to the reconstruction ordered by Napoleon. At the south side of the Porta Nigra, remains of Roman columns line the last 100 m of the street leading to the gate. Positioned where they had stood in Roman times, they give a slight impression of the aspect of the original Roman street that was lined with colonnades. The Porta Nigra, including the upper floors, is open to visitors.