The Cathedrals Along The Rhône
A Rhône River cruise will take you along one of Europe’s major waterways. With its source in the Swiss Alps, it flows directly to the Mediterranean Sea, through Switzerland and France, crossing various different landscapes along the way. This magnificent river flows past many beautiful cities and communes that are home to some spectacular cathedrals. We’ve listed five that are definitely worth a visit if you get the chance during your cruise.
Cathedral of Saint-Apollinaire, Valence
Valence is a commune located on the left bank of the Rhône, in the South-East of France. It is home to the famous Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint-Apollinaire, one of the oldest monuments in the area. Built in the 12th century, it’s dedicated to Saint Apollinaris of Valence.
This unique monument features Romanesque architecture, a style taken from Medieval Europe that includes semi-circle arches, large towers and a symmetrical design.
After experiencing substantial damage during the French Wars of Religion from 1569 to 1598, it was rebuilt in the 17th century. The stain glass windows are said to reflect the sunlight and project a rainbow of colours around the Cathedral.
Cathédrale Saint-Maurice, Vienne
The Cathédrale Saint-Maurice in Vienne is a Medieval, Roman Catholic Church, dedicated to Saint Maurice. It serves as the final resting place for King Boso of Provence, buried in 887, and is where Guy of Burgundy was crowned Pope.
When first built, the Cathedral had Romanesque style architecture, however, Gothic extensions and modifications have been made since it was damaged, during the French Wars of Religion. You can see these two different architectural styles from the inside.
The building is now used as a Basilica with an apse and three isles. The most magnificent feature is the west front, which is above the terrace and overlooks the Rhône.
Notre Dame Des Doms, Avignon
The Avignon Cathedral is a Roman Catholic Church and seats the Archbishop of Avignon. This Romanesque style building was built in the 12th century, although the collapsed bell tower had to be rebuilt in 1425, along with the apse in 1670.
The main feature on the outside is the statue of the Virgin Mary, which was placed above the bell tower in 1859. The inside features a mausoleum, a burial chamber for Pope John XXII.
When wandering around the inside, tourists can see many works of art, plenty of beautiful decorations and locals worshipping in the pews, as well as listen to the choir singing.
Church of St. Trophime, Arles
When you stop in the port of Arles, you can visit the Church of St. Trophime, a Roman Catholic church that also features Romanesque architecture. It is said to have the finest examples of Romanesque sculptures above its west portal, which tell stories of biblical scenes. Other forms of art that are featured in this monument include Baroque paintings and tapestries, as well as many late Roman Sarcophagi – a stone carved receptacle for a corpse.
This cathedral was built in the late 11th century and features small windows, a nave and bell tower that were all added in the 12th century. The interior differs immensely and allows tourists to see the many stain glass windows that depict Saint Honoratus. UNESCO has declared this church a World Heritage Site.
Cathédrale Saint-Vincent, Viviers
The Viviers Roman Catholic church was built in the 11th century and currently seats the Bishop of Viviers. It features a vaulted ceiling that was reconstructed throughout the 18th century, due to it being destroyed during the Wars of Religion.
Located on a hill, this is one of the smallest cathedrals in France but still manages to provide you with amazing views over Viviers and the many other historical buildings. The exterior has embellishments at the top which, along with the bell tower, manifest a flamboyant design. Inside, you’ll find large tapestries, a marble altar and a walnut organ that fills the church when played.
When aboard one of our Rhône River cruises, be sure to check out these magnificent cathedrals and churches that exhibit Romanesque architecture and 12th-century features. If you wish to book a river cruise then contact us via our website or call 0800 954 0064.