Bourges, Cathedral - Visit time : 1 day.
The realization of the Bourges Cathedral was intended to express the power of the king and the archbishop of the city, especially over the south of France and of the Aquitaine region, which had passed into the hands of the English. The result is amazing. Its exceptional size, the bold and innovative architectural pyramid construction, the speed of its completion, its ornate decorations, sculptures and stained-glass windows … everything that characterizes this cathedral makes it one of the greatest masterpieces of Gothic architecture. Its unparalleled beauty would mark history and influence other European cathedrals for many years to come.
The Bourges Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. The most remarkable feature of the structure is its overall design : unlike other major churches of the time, it was designed and built in a single phase, and not in many different phrases over several centuries. This architectural work of art holds great importance for French heritage.
The Saint Etienne cathedral of Bourges has been listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco under criteria (i) and (iv) since 1992.
Criteria for selection
Criterion (i): The Bourges Cathedral was of great importance in the development of Gothic architecture and as a symbol of the power of the Christian religion in France during the Middle Ages. However, its most important aspect remains its striking beauty, the result of a masterly management of space with harmonious proportions and very high-quality decorations.
Criterion (iv): Although the Bourges Cathedral was built on the fringes of the period of French Gothic style represented by the cathedrals of Saint Denis, Paris, Chartres and Amiens, it nevertheless replicates, and in some cases surpasses, the architectural values of the cathedrals of this style. The unity of its design, scholarly articulation of spaces and the treatment of light all represent outstanding expressions of the Gothic style applied to this building. The cathedral had an influence on other European cathedrals such as those in Le Mans, Coutances and Toledo in Spain.
Source : Unesco / ICOMOS