Vannes Cathedral

Vannes Cathedral west front, with the Romanesque tower to the left (December 2006)

Vannes Cathedral or St. Peter's Cathedral, Vannes (French: Cathédrale Saint-Pierre de Vannes), which also carries the title Basilica, is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Vannes, Brittany, France. It is the seat of the Bishops of Vannes.

The present Gothic building was erected on the site of the former Romanesque cathedral. Its construction extends from the 15th to the 19th centuries, or if the length of the existence of the 13th century Romanesque bell tower is included, a total of seven centuries of construction.


The first building was erected around 1020 in Romanesque style. Built out of granite and continuously modified by adding new structures, the cathedral is an extremely composite building. The rebuilding in Gothic style dates mainly from the 15th and 16th centuries. In this period the nave and the ornate gateway at the northern end of the north transept whose twelve niches, according to Breton custom, were supposed to accommodate the Apostles were built high. The northern tower is the main remnant of the former Romanesque building, while the vaults and the choir were built between 1771 and 1774.


Ground plan of the cathedral


The horizontal dimensions of the building can be derived from the ground plan. (Data on the heights are not available for the moment). The building is one of the largest on the French Atlantic coast.


The façade was carved in 1857 in a neo-Gothic style. Outside, in front of the central pillar of the large gate, stands a statue of the Dominican monk St. Vincent Ferrer, from Valencia. His activities in the 15th century greatly influenced Christianity in Vannes. The northern façade opens onto the garden of the cloister (ruins from the 16th century) and the Rue des chanoines ("Street of the Canons") through the beautiful portal at the top of the north transept, built in a Flamboyant late Gothic style (1514), and decorated with twelve niches designed to house statues of the twelve apostles. The cross, visible close to the northern façade, dates back to the 15th century and was brought from the cemetery.


The nave with the altar and statues of St. Peter and St. Paul (December 2006)
The main altar

During the Middle Ages, the floor of the cathedral had been covered by tombstones. For hygienic reasons, only the tradition of burying the bishops in their episcopal church has been preserved. However, some tombstones have been returned and can be seen today. The cathedral has only retained tombs dating back to the 17th century. Two bishops' tombs can be found in the crypt under the choir.

The building contains the following features:

St. Gwenaël's Chapel
Chapel of St. Mériadec and St. Patern
Saint Anne's Chapel in Vannes Cathedral (December 2006)

Positions 9, 10, 11, 13 and 17 are the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (closed to visitors), the Chapel of Our Lady de Pitié, the Chapel in the apse, the Calvary and the Chapel of St. Louis respectively.

In literature

In the novels of Alexandre Dumas, the musketeer Aramis appears at one point as Bishop of Vannes and logically must have served in this very cathedral.


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Coordinates: 47°39′29″N 2°45′25″W / 47.658°N 2.757°W / 47.658; -2.757

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