Saint Gatien's Cathedral, Tours

Saint Gatien's Cathedral, Tours (must see)

"...not until the cathedral is finished." is an old saying around the city of Tours. It refers to the cathedral of Saint Gatien. The cathedral was dedicated to Saint Gatianus in 1356 but it was the reincarnation of several other churches on the site. The first was dedicated to St. Maurice and built by Bishop Lidorius in 371.

Lidorius' church burned in 558 and was rebuilt by Gregory of Tours in 590. In 1160 a new structure was erected in the Angevin style. This one burned before it was finished. Work resumed in 1220. Many renovations in different styles were made. The choir and transept used the lower Romanesque structure. Parts were Gothic or Rayonnant.

Further work was interrupted by the Hundred Years War, a long time to wait for the cathedral to be finished. But not to worry, The nave was finished in the 15th century. The two Renaissance towers were erected outside the ancient city walls. The first tower was finished in 1534. The second was put up in 1547.

During the French Revolution the church was magically changed into a Temple of Reason. Napoleon made up with the Pope however, and reason was restored and the church became a church again. Major restoration commenced in 1993. The organ and the upper windows were restored. The rose window was completed and a new altar dedicated in 2018.

The sides of the cathedral are supported with enormous flying buttresses and spires. The north transept has two extra buttresses and a rose window. The window has a bar across its face to provide extra strength.

The nave holds a monumental tomb for the children of King Charles VII and Ann of Brittany. Made in 1506, the Italian style tomb is of carrara marble.

Three enormous rose windows of stained glass adorn the west, the north and south ends of the cathedral. The windows were made in the style of the glass artisans of Tours. They admit more natural light and sharpen the images. This permitted more expressiveness in the subjects depicted, creating a three-dimensional effect.

At last, the cathedral is finished. The "wait" is over.

Why You Should Visit:
To be overwhelmed by the craftsmanship of the middle ages, especially with the great rose windows. The building arts in this church have been lost, but some things remain.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Tours. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Saint Gatien's Cathedral on Map

Sight Name: Saint Gatien's Cathedral
Sight Location: Tours, France (See walking tours in Tours)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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