Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1998, the Cathedral of Saint-Front is a major historical monument on the road to Santiago de Compostela.
Restored by the architect Paul Abadie, who later became the Sacré-Cœur in Paris, during the second half of the 19th century, the Saint-Front Cathedral remains one of the most famous buildings in Europe.
Its Greek cross plan resembles that of Saint Mark's in Venice, but it was the Church of the Holy Apostles in Constantinople that served as its model. Its domes on pendentives, in spite of their enormous mass of stone and imposing dimensions, leave the visitor with a singular impression of space and lightness.
The location of Saint-Front on the side of a hill has made it possible to develop under its various bays a complex ensemble of crypts and underground or semi-buried chapels. A set of stairs, starting from the naves, allowed access to the underground cavities. They are now blocked off.
A bit of History
The building perpetuates the memory of Saint-Front, evangelizer of the Périgord around the 4th or 5th century, whose tomb gave birth to the origin of Périgueux.
The cathedral will have a rather eventful history over the centuries.
The first church was built by Bishop Chronope around 500-536.
The place attracting more and more people, Bishop Frotaire was sent to Périgueux in 976, by Hugues Capet, to build the great abbey.
In the 11th century, the abbey church could not accommodate the pilgrims of Compostela, so a domed church was built.
After a fire, around 1350, the domed church was to be extended to the east, where the staircase is located, by a Gothic apse. Not an apse was built but a chapel dedicated to Saint-Antoine, endowed by Cardinal Talleyrand and served by independent chaplains.
In 1525 a parish church was built, first Saint-Jean-Baptiste, then Sainte-Anne, adjoining the north-east, where the chapel of the Virgin is now.
In 1551 and 1575, the Huguenots looted Saint-Front and destroyed its furniture. The relics of Saint-Front were taken away and thrown into the Dordogne.
Between 1760 and 1764 the domes, in very poor condition, were covered with a slate-covered cruciform framework.
Closer to home, the restoration, in 1852, by the architect Paul Abadie took half a century.
This restoration respects the plan and the volumes of the building but redraws the whole architecture.
Place de la Clautre,
Tel: 05 53 53 10 63
The Friends of the Cathedral Saint Frontde Périgueux
88 Gambetta Street,
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