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Tours Cathedral

Listed under Cathedrals in Tours, France.

  • Photo of Tours Cathedral
  • Photo of Tours Cathedral
  • Photo of Tours Cathedral
  • Photo of Tours Cathedral
  • Photo of Tours Cathedral
  • Photo of Tours Cathedral
  • Photo of Tours Cathedral
Photo of Tours Cathedral
Photo by flickr user Goldmund100
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The Tours Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Gatien de Tours), dedicated to Saint Gatien, its first bishop, was begun about 1170 to replace the just-started cathedral that burned down in 1166 during the quarrel between Louis VII of France and Henry II of England.

Work on Tours Cathedral proceeded at a leisurely pace over the centuries until 1547. The lowermost stages of the west towers belong to the 12th century, but the rest of the west end is in the profusely detailed Flamboyant Gothic of the 15th century. It was completed just as the Renaissance was flourishing, which can be seen in the belfries. Henry James complimented the cathedral's "charming mouse-colored complexion." (A Little Tour in France).

Inside the triple-naved church, building proceeded as always from the sanctuary and choir, which has some of the finest stained glass (13th century), and worked pier by pier down the nave. The choir is 13th century; the transept and east bays of the nave are 14th century; a cloister on the north is contemporary with the facade.

Just beyond the south transept stands the tomb of the sons of Charles VIII and Anne de Bretagne. After the death of both Charles and his sons, the Valois line came to an end and Anne was obliged by law to marry Charles' cousin, Louis XII.

When the 15th century illuminator Jean Fouquet was set the task of illuminating Josephus's Jewish Antiquities, his depiction of Solomon's Temple was modeled after the nearly-complete Cathedral of Tours.

The atmosphere of the Gothic cathedral close permeates Honoré de Balzac's dark short novel of jealousy and provincial intrigues, Le Curé de Tours (The Curate of Tours) and his medieval story Maitre Cornelius opens within the cathedral itself.

More about Tours Cathedral on Sacred Destinations.

Written by  Martin Gray.

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