World Heritage # 19: Bourges Cathedral

As part of a specially dedicated series French sites recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO, writing Welcome Camping invites you to discover one by one the exceptional French destinations, preserved as a heritage of humanity. We continue this series with a site recognized in 1992, Bourges Cathedral.

In the Center-Val-de-Loire region, Bourges is one of the cradles of Christianity in France. It is indeed there that one of the first Christian communities in Gaul developed. Bourges cathedral, built later, between the XNUMXth and XNUMXth centuries, is dedicated to the first Christian martyr, Saint-Étienne. The building has been recognized as a World Heritage Site as a masterpiece of nascent Gothic architecture. The articulation of its spaces, the unity of its design and the treatment of light make Bourges Cathedral, a unique expression of medieval architectural genius. In the direct vicinity of the cathedral, there are medieval half-timbered houses.

Bourges today

The history of Bourges cathedral

Bourges cathedral was built by order of Henri de Sully from 1995. It was then to symbolize the power of the archbishopric of Bourges. The choir will rise from the Romanesque church already present on the site. Guillaume de Dangeon will develop the project with the sculpted decoration and the stained glass windows. The second construction campaign will allow the construction of the nave and the western facade. It will be completed in 1230. All the architects who will succeed one another will know how to preserve the coherence of the apparent simplicity of the building.

Bourges Cathedral seen from the back


Bourges cathedral has the particularity of not having a transept. This choice greatly contributes to the effect of unity of space. The second characteristic of the building is the light. There is indeed an important presence of stained glass windows, however rare at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. The stained glass window "The Parable of the Good Samaritan" is moreover a masterpiece of medieval glassmaking. The cathedral, the sculpted decorations as well as the presence of stained glass windows wanted to be affirmations of dogma in the face of heresies. The search for elevation, perspective and the fusion of volumes in the interior space, are particularly remarkable. The double flight of flying buttresses and the five sculpted portals are other characteristics of the aerial and impressive Bourges cathedral.

Decor of Bourges Cathedral

Bourges cathedral today

Saint-Etienne Cathedral in Bourges welcomes more than 600 visitors each year. The more daring can climb the 000 steps of the north tower, the “Butter Tower”, and admire the perspective of the building, as well as the panoramic view of the city. Inside, everyone can admire the oldest astronomical clock in France, or visit the crypts in the basement. After their visit, other visits await the curious, who can head to the Jacques Coeur Palace or to one of the magnificent museums of the city. And for a total change of scenery, why not let yourself be tempted by a visit to the Bourges marshes? At the foot of the medieval quarter, 396 hectares of nature and vegetable gardens offer surprising walks in the heart of the city.

marshes of Bourges