The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, a masterpiece of Gothic architecture, is the most visited monument in France. It was built in the Middle Ages, at the far end of the Île de la Cité. Work started in the 13th century and finished in the 15th century. Badly damaged during the French Revolution, the cathedral was restored in the 19th century by the architect Viollet-le-Duc. Its many visitors come to admire its stained glass and rose windows, the towers, the steeple and the gargoyles. They can also discover the Notre-Dame treasury and have a go at climbing the towers to enjoy a panoramic view of Paris. In 2013, Notre-Dame is celebrated its 850th anniversary. For this occasion, many events were organized and the cathedral renewed its bells with the arrival of eight new bells as well as a new great bell. Road distances from Paris in France are calculated from point 0 on the cathedral forecourt.
Attached to the Basse-OEuvre, a remnant of the Cathedral of the year 1000, the Cathedral Saint-Pierre de Beauvais dominates the valley of Thérain by its prodigious proportions. Many hazards during its construction, including the fall of the spire in the sixteenth century. only four years after its elevation, left the building without a nave.
Inside the cathedral, the famous astronomical clock of Beauvais contains a mechanism composed of 90 000 pieces and 68 automatons. Imposing from the height of its 12 meters, this masterpiece of the nineteenth century presents in its dials information on the seasons, eclipses, etc
Remains of a medieval castle and church, with UNESCO World Heritage status due to their connection with the Santiago de Compostella pilgrim way. The church houses the striking tombs of the Lords of Folleville in Carrara marble, an example of the Italian Renaissance having spread as far as Picardy. Below the castle is a village where traces of its past and its setting are reconstituted.
In the heart of the historic city, the cathedral has been the epitome of the development of Gothic art, since the start of its construction in the 12th century on the foundations of a 4th century basislica and an 11th century Romanesque edifice.
Built in the 15th and 16th centuries, this church has a remarkable tympan on its Flamboyant façade: a large bas-relief depicting Christ's entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. This beautiful little church is a jewel of the Renaissance period in Corbie.
Proof of real technical genius, the Notre-Dame d'Amiens cathedral demonstrates architectural harmony. Built from 1220 to 1288, its size makes it one of the biggest Gothic buildings ever built: 145 m long, 42 m high, and a total volume of 200,000 m3. Its indoor and outdoor statuary is just as remarkable as its architecture. Since it was restored, the polychromy of its Gothic doors has become the main reference. This revelation gave rise to the "Amiens, a cathedral in colours" show, which offers a reproduction of the original medieval colours.
Reims Cathedral is recognised worldwide as one of the defining models of Gothic art.
Admire the countless statues under the cathedral glow! No wonder this monument was classed by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1991... What gives this building its particular character? Its central role played in the history of France for 800 years.
Reims Cathedral is where the kings of France were crowned. The cathedral hosted thirty-three sovereign coronations in just over 1000 years! The cathedral also hosted the baptism of Clovis around the year 498, and so kingdom of the Franks was born. This made Reims the chosen city to crown kings.
Few cities in France can boast of having given a pope to Christianity. Champagne is an exception, with two pontiffs: Urbain II, born in 1042 in Châtillon (Marne), and Urbain IV, born in 1185 in Troyes in a house which disappeared to make way for the Saint-Urbain church.
A masterpiece of Gothic art with its superb proportions, its stone lace and its immense canopies, Saint-Urbain is called "the Parthenon of Champagne". The vast portal, covering the entire western part of the building, was completed in 1905, but the tympanum, on which there is a magnificent Last Judgment, dates from the 13th century.
Upon entering the church, one is struck by the elegance, the sobriety and the brightness of the place. The surprisingly light transept and choir have retained their magnificent original stained glass windows, dating from around 1270 and restored in 1992 by the Trojan workshops Le Vitrail. The statuary is also admirable, notably the famous Virgin of the Grapes (chapel on the south aisle) whose finesse and meditation are typical of the Trojan School of the 16th century.
In 1935, the remains of Urban IV were transferred to the church, which received the title of basilica in 1964.
An uncontested symbol of Le Havre’s renaissance, Saint-Joseph church is an extraordinary edifice: impressive dimensions and its trans-Atlantic style disturb traditional religious references, yet also make it one of the most remarkable constructions of the 20th century in France.
Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours is dedicated to the first bishop of the city and is a 'must-see' when visiting the Loire Valley. The current cathedral sits on the site of a number of predecessors all of which were damaged by fires. One in 1166 during the conflict between Louis VII of France and Henry II of England (who also ruled over the neighbouring region of Anjou at the time).
Construction proper on the existing cathedral began in 1270 but progress was slow and it was not completed until 1547, so what we have is a building made up of styles spanning a number of centuries, though the predominate 'style' is obviously 'Gothic'.
The nave was completed around 1450, in the flamboyant style we see today. Then, from 1450 to 1484, the facade is built in the same style on the foundations of a Gallo-Roman wall. The north tower was completed around 1507 while the south tower, in the same style, would not be completed for another 40 years!. Both seem to have acquired renaissance caps.
So many adjectives that describe Notre-Dame Cathedral in Tournai, a true jewel of medieval architecture. The only Belgian Cathedral listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this masterpiece of Western art draws the scenery of the country for miles around. A must-visit in your discovery of Tournai!
134 m long including 58 m for the only choir, 67 m wide for the transept, 83 m high for the tallest tower. The proportions of Notre Dame Cathedral are gigantic. The nave and transept built in the 12th century are Romanesque. The choir, completed in 1254, is of Gothic style. This combination of stones gives it an undeniable originality and the 5 towers that dominate the city make it a unique building of its kind.
Discover an exceptional treasure room with the presence of major works: the two large reliquaries of Notre-Dame and Saint-Eleuthère, precious ivories, goldsmiths' pieces, a 14th century Arras tapestry.
Since 2006, a vast restoration project is at work: stabilization of the Gothic choir, replacement of roofs, cleaning stone walls, restoration of stained glass windows ... The building site is constantly evolving and completely renovated parts appear over the days.
The construction of the present collegiate church began in 1450 with the chancel, which was finished around 1506. The transept was completed in 1527, and work on the nave lasted until 1621. Laid out in the form of a Latin cross with 29 chapels around the main nave, transept and chancel, this building is recognised as a leading part of Wallonia’s heritage. It was the private and personal church of the Saint Waltrude canonesses, who had dreamt of crowning the west face of their collegiate church with a 623 ft high tower. This tower, of which the first stones were laid around 1549, was never finished, and work on it was finally abandoned between 1686 and 1687.
Do not miss the Treasury: one of the most beautiful collections of religious jewellery in Belgium. You can see the reliquary of St. Waltrude: one of them (la châsse) contains the body of St. Waltrude and the other (le chef) contains her head; The oldest stained-glass windows: especially the five windows of the apse, done by a master glassblower from Mons and given to the church by the Emperor Maximilian of Austria in 1510-1511; The sculptures: especially the statues in white stone of St Michael thrusting down Satan (15th century) and of St. Waltrude (16th century) and The Golden Coach: wooden vehicle painted and gilded in Louis XVI style (1780/1781), used each year for the annual Procession of the Trinity (Doudou).
This church in Tournai bluestone is one of the most beautiful examples of the Scheldt Gothic style.
One of its unique elements is that the tower is not above the entrance but above the crossing of the nave and transepts. It functions as a sort of natural lantern as the light shines into the transept from the tower.
This magnificent sight on Sint-Baafsplein in Ghent is a proud old lady: don’t just walk past her on your city trip. St Bavo’s Cathedral is the oldest parish church in the lively heart of Ghent. It stands on the site of a 10th century church and a 12th century Romanesque church. The latter was dedicated to St John the Baptist. In the Middle Ages, Ghent was a rich and powerful city that had the means to commission ever-larger and more opulent churches. So the Church of St John the Baptist was converted during the 15th and 16th centuries into the imposing Gothic St Bavo’s Cathedral.
St Bavo’s Cathedral has a rich history and it is also filled with art treasures that make many an art-lover’s mouth water: from the baroque high altar in white, black and red flamed marble, the Rococo pulpit in oak, gilded wood and marble, to a masterpiece by Rubens: Saint Bavo enters the Convent at Ghent, and the Calvary Triptych by Justus van Gent, the Gothic chandelier/sanctuary lamp, the opulent tombs of the Bishops of Ghent – and of course the world-famous Mystic Lamb.
The 115.5 metres high brick tower of the Church of Our Lady is a perfect illustration of the craftsmanship of Bruges’ artisans. The church displays a valuable art collection: Michelangelo’s world-famous Madonna and Child, countless paintings, 13th-century painted sepulchres and the tombs of Mary of Burgundy and Charles the Bold. Useful to know: at the moment, large-scale renovation works are still being carried out, so the church is only partially accessible and many works of art cannot be viewed. The choir was renovated in 2015 and the remarkable church interior can now once again be admired in all its splendour.
The Basilica of the Holy Blood is a Roman Catholic basilica in Bruges. The church houses a venerated relic of the Holy Blood allegedly collected by Joseph of Arimathea and brought from the Holy Land by Thierry of Alsace, Count of Flanders.
The double church, dedicated to Our Lady and Saint Basil in the 12th century and a basilica since 1923, consists of a lower church that has maintained its Romanesque character and a neo-Gothic upper church, in which the relic of the Holy Blood is preserved. The treasury, with numerous valuable works of art, is also worth a visit.
The town hall is Leuven's pride and joy. Moreover, it's one of the best-known Gothic town halls worldwide. It took three architects and thirty years to build it. Leuven's 'Hall of Fame' features 236 statues, which were only added to the façade after 1850.
These days the town hall merely has a ceremonial function after the city's administrative services moved in 2009. The tourist information center is situated on the side of the town hall.
Also daily guided tours are available. The guide will tell you about the construction history of this Gothic gem. You will discover the story behind the 236 sculptures on the façade. Afterwards, you can visit the foyer, the reception rooms, the large and small Gothic Hall, the wedding hall and the council hall.
Every third Saturday of the month you can visit the cellars under the town hall. These cellars have housed the ‘Jaartallen’ collection since the very first edition in 1890. The entrance is located at Grote Markt square next to the town hall’s flight of step.
Saint Peter’s stands in the very centre of Leuven. It was built as a Romanesque church in 986, and it is therefore the oldest church in the city. In 1176, the building was ravaged by fire (probably for the first time), and two centuries later, part of the church again burned to the ground. In the 15th century, the Romanesque building was gradually taken down to make way for the Gothic church you see today. This process took more than a century.
Over the last century, Saint Peter’s Church has undergone several extensive renovations, returning it to its full glory. That is why Saint Peter’s Church is now generally recognized as one of the finest examples of 15th-century Brabantine High Gothic architecture, and it is an unmissable tourist attraction in the city of Leuven.
Built between 1220 and 1552, it is the product of the unification of two distinct churches. With its 42 metre high vaults, it is one of the highest Gothic edifices in Europe. With its 6,500 m² of stained glass windows, the nickname “God’s lantern” is well merited.
Important pilgrimage centre from the 8th to 18th century, the Benedictine Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel is a remarkable example of medieval architecture which is both military and religious. Visitors will be enthralled by the abbey church, the cloisters, the refectory and the monks' promenade.
In summer, see a different facet of the abbey, watching the night fall during a nocturnal visit accompanied by sound and light…
St Rumbold's Cathedral was built in the thirteenth century. From the outset it was larger and more impressive than all the other parish churches and later on it became 'the church of the archbishops'. Originally there was a triple-nave cruciform church on the site of the vast cathedral. Only after a series of building campaigns did the church become a city's star attraction.
The inside of the cathedral is breathtaking. You can admire Anthony van Dyck's painting 'Christ on the Cross', along with works by (among others) Michel Coxcie, Gaspard de Crayer and Abraham Janssens. The real showpiece, however, has to be the high altar by Lucas Faydherbe which dates from 1665.
The cathedral "Notre-Dame" of Luxembourg was built between 1613 and 1621 by the Jesuits to serve as a church to their college (now the National Library). The north gate is characteristic of the semi-Renaissance, semi-Baroque style of the period. Since 1794, it has housed the statue of the Consoler of the Afflicted. A cathedral church in 1870, it was enlarged from 1935 to 1938. The choir screen in richly sculpted alabaster, columns decorated with arabesques, stained glass from the 19th and 20th centuries, neo-Gothic confessionals, modern sculptures in bas relief, bronze gates by Auguste Trémont, are all worthy of this splendid sanctuary. The crypt is the resting place of John the Blind, King of Bohemia and Count of Luxembourg, as well as deceased members of the Grand Ducal family; the two lions flanking the entrance are also the work of Auguste Trémont.
The Cathedral is an iconic treasury, with an impressive collection of major art works, including a series of paintings by Rubens. Now, after twenty years, the seven-naved church has been restored to its former architectural glory. Fascinating features include Rubens’ ‘Elevation of the Cross’ and his ‘Descent from the Cross’.
After 169 years of construction the cathedral of Antwerp finally dominated Antwerp's skyline in 1521 with a height of 123 metres. It's the highest Gothic building in the Low Countries.
Any visit to Antwerp starts with a visit of the Cathedral of Our Lady!
St James‘ Church is the starting point for pilgrims journeying to the burial place of St James the Greater in Santiago de Compostela. The church is also known for the resting place of Rubens.
This church, which is within short walking distance from Antwerp’s main shopping street Meir, is one of the largest churches in Antwerp. Like so many other European cities Antwerp also has a sanctuary for St. James. In the early fifteenth century there was a hospice here, which welcomed Northern European pilgrims travelling to the tomb of the apostle James in Santiago de Compostela. In 1413 a chapel, dedicated to St. James, was added to the hospice. Soon the chapel proved too small. As a consequence construction started on the current church in Brabant Gothic style in 1491. It would take no less than 175 years to complete the church.
St. James’s Church served as parish church for several smaller crafts and guilds and religious brotherhoods. The choir was completed during the Baroque period with the tombs and chapels of wealthy families. The most famous memorial chapel is that of the Antwerp Baroque master Peter Paul Rubens. He painted the altarpiece Madonna Surrounded by Saints in the chapel. Elsewhere in the church you can admire a masterpiece by Jacob Jordaens.
St. James’s Church has one of the oldest working tower clocks.
Located in Dol-de-Bretagne, Cathédraloscope takes you to the time of the cathedrals. Check the box of the architect, decrypt the windows, dive into the heart of the site to the rhythm of the eleven rooms of the museum. Guided tours, introductions to stone, creative workshops, building games, mystery to unravel
Experience a spiritual moment in Rochester Cathedral and visit a church that has been celebrating Christian worship since 604AD. The history and heritage of Rochester Cathedral is boasted in its stunning architecture. Its walls hum with the prayer of thousands of years.
Ancient basilica with a beautiful medieval and Renaissance party party. Magnificent altarpiece. Go see behind the English garden to the ramparts, with a lovely view over the port of Dinan and the Rance Valley.
Going back into the early Middle Ages, a wall defined an area surrounding the Cathedral, the close, whose center today comprises, along with the Cathedral, the recently redesigned Cathedral Square with the grandiose view onto the Romanesque west façade of the Cathedral and the Early Gothic Church of Our Lady.
It has been painstakingly renovated and is now a perfect example of 18th-century Baroque beauty. The pope even granted the church the title “Basilica Minor”. Not to be missed are the bronze portal and the entrance area, which were designed by the Saarbrücken artist Ernst Alt.
The church organ is particularly striking. It consists of three individual parts, the main organ and the two choir organs. They can be played individually or together. The St. Johann Basilica organ is hence composed of 60 sounding stops and a total of 4,312 pipes. This remarkable and multifaceted instrument is exceptional in both its construction and its tone spectrum and is renowned far beyond Saarbrücken and the Saarland.