Cahors cathedral of Saint-Etienne visitor guide

Photo of Cahors cathedral of Saint-Etienne

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The cathedral of Saint-Etienne is situated in the heart of the medieval city of Cahors, in the Lot department of south-west France.

Explore the cathedral of Saint-Etienne in Cahors

France This Way review: the cathedral in Cahors is one of the most important monuments in the town, and has several different features of interest

It is thought that the original church on the site was built in the 7th century by a bishop called Saint-Didier although the current cathedral was built in the 12th century - the main altar is the oldest part of the building and was built in the first part of the 12th century.

Entrance to Cahors cathedral

A second altar was also built at this time, to hold the Sainte Coiffe, the cloth that is said to have shrouded the head of Christ at the time he was placed in the tomb. This cloth ensured that the cathedral in Cahors was an important pilgrim destination for several centuries, and is still part of one of the pilgrimage routes - the Via Podiensis - today.

The main facade includes a rose window and ornamental entrance, but otherwise has the design of a fortified tower. Inside, the cathedral is a very simple design with one nave and no transept, and a series of chapels at the rear.

The north entrance is one of the highlights of the cathedral, built in the roman style typical of the early 12th century and with a tympanum (the part above the door) having impressive carved stone. The main entrance also includes the original stone arches although the original statues are no longer in place, and the south entrance is more simple, in a roman style with an unusual "three leaf clover" design.

The main nave, very unusual because it has two large domes supported by columns and pendants as a roof, is also part of the original cathedral. The apse and the large entrance were added in the 13th century, in the gothic style that was now popular in Europe.


There is a significant amount of painted surfaces inside the cathedral, including the interior of the west dome which is part of the original cathedral and includes paintings of the prophets, and several medieval paintings on the walls including some beautiful 14th century paintings around the choir.

Various tombs can be seen, and most of the other items and paintings inside the cathedral were added as part of a program of improvement in the 17th and 18th century and include a baroque style altarpiece. Most of the stained glass windows in the cathedral of Saint-Etenne are 19th century additions, the originals havng been lost or damaged.

You will also see stained glass windows that were added in the early 21st century, in a contemporary style designd by Gerard Collin-Thiébault and representing stories of the evangelists: these are very well implemented and an interesting addition to the cathedral.

These modern stained glass windows were made using an unusual process in which the enamel paint was applied to the glass, then this was reheated in a furnace and a second layer of glass added that included the lead strips used to delineate the colours.

You can also see the cloister of the cathedral Saint-Etienne as part of your visit, which now includes a pretty formal garden.

The cloister was rebuilt in the late 15th and early 16th century in the gothic flamboyant style, with large gothic arches around the edges each with carvings of plants and flowers. The cloister is reached via a door next to the choir inside the cathedral.

Next to the cloister, in the chapel of Saint-Gausbert you can see the cathedral treasury as well as the medieval paintings that decorate the walls of the chapel

Dome above the nave in Cahors cathedral of Saint-Etienne

Attractions nearby

The main monument in Cahors is the Pont Valentré, an impressive fortified bridge from the 13th century. See the Cahors guide for more sites of interest in the town.

You can find more travel ideas in the Lot guide and the Midi-Pyrenees guide.

See also: 

Photos of Cahors cathedral of Saint-Etienne

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  • altar
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Map of Cahors cathedral of Saint-Etienne and places nearby


Visit near Cahors cathedral of Saint-Etienne with France This Way reviews

Cahors gardens

Cahors gardens

The secret gardens of Cahors are charming and following the garden route is a great way to see the sights of Cahors.

Cahors gardens guide


Best known for the famous Pont Valentre bridge, Cahors is a lively town which also has a small historic centre

Cahors guide
Pont Valentré

Pont Valentré

Pont Valentré in Cahors is an impressive fortified bridge from the middle ages

Pont Valentré guide


Albas, a village on the Lot river, has a renowned wine festival each May

Albas guide


Cabrerets is a pretty village on the Célé river best known for the Grotte de Pech Merle

Cabrerets guide


Saint-Cirq-Lapopie is certainly among the most beautiful villages in France, with its riverside setting and lovely historic streets

Saint-Cirq-Lapopie guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Lot

The French version of this page is at Cahors cathedral of Saint-Etienne (Francais)