Cathedral Saint-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie visitor guide

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The Cathedral Sainte-Marie is an important cathedral to the south-west of the centre of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, town in the Béarn province of the Pyrenees-Atlantiques: it is one of three imposing religious buildings in the town.

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France This Way review: the principal reason to visit the cathedral of Sainte-Marie is to see the remarkable carvings in the 12th century entrance, and take a stroll around the square around the cathedral

Porch and tower of the cathedral-Sainte-Marie

Below the tall tower-porch that dominates the entrance to the cathedral you can see the most important part of the 12th century building: the carved portail. There are two arches of carvings around the portail, in very good condition and portraying numerous characters playing string instruments on the outer arch and a variety of other characters on the inner arch.

Within the arches there are reliefs of religious characters - principally a representation of the Descent from the Cross with Mary to the left of Jesus - and around the arches and on the columns either side are further statues and carvings: together these create a very impressive example of 12th century religious art.

As well as the tower and entrance, further parts of the original church can be seen in the transept, although the remainder of the cathedral is more recent: because of fires at the start of the 13th century and another at the start of the 14th century the other parts of the building we see today were rebuilt in the 14th and 15th centuries.

The building was also ransacked in the 16th century and substantial renovations carried out in the early 17th century.


Inside the cathedral there are three naves separated by massive gothic style arches that lead to the transept.

The rear part of the cathedral, and the walls and ceiling above the altar, are painted with colourful patterns and pictures, with further colourful decoration around the perambulatory (the path that passes the chapels at the rear of the cathedral, behind the altar).

Elsewhere inside the cathedral Sainte-Marie you can see further decorative capital stones and an organ as well as several stained glass windows in the chapels at the rear of the church: these were added as part of a restoration of the cathedral in the 19th century.

Inside the cathedral you can visit the treasury, which exhibits various religious clothes and uniforms and a crib as well as some artefacts of religious silverwork.

perambulatory of the cathedral

Attractions nearby

The Place de la Cathédrale has some interesting buildings ansd several cafes as well as a small area that is the site of a 4th century masoleum at the rear of the cathedral where you can see several ancient relics (the ancient city was destroyed by the vikings in the 9th century).

Also in the town, another important religious monument is the Church of Saint-Croix, in the medieval part of Oloron-Sainte-Marie, and there are various other sites of interest: see the Oloron-Sainte-Marie guide.

Explore elsewhere in the Béarn. You can find more travel ideas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques guide and the Aquitaine guide.

See also: 

Photos of Cathedral Saint-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

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Visit near Cathedral Saint-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie with France This Way reviews

Church Sainte-Croix in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

Church Sainte-Croix in Oloron-Sainte-Marie

The Church Sainte-Croix is an interesting roman style church built in the 12th century

Church Sainte-Croix in Oloron-Sainte-Marie guide


There are several sights of interest in Oloron-Saint-Marie including a picturesque section of river

Oloron-Sainte-Marie guide


The small village of Sarrance is in the valley of the Gave d'Aspe and has an interesting church to visit

Sarrance guide


Navarrenx is a traditional fortified French bastide town in the western pyrenees

Navarrenx guide
Chateau de Pau

Chateau de Pau

The Chateau de Pau is an impressive combination of the renaissance and 19th century architectural styles

Chateau de Pau guide


The large town of Pau is well known for the views from the belvedere that cover a large section of Pyrenees mountains

Pau guide

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Pyrenees-Atlantiques

The French version of this page is at Cathedral Saint-Marie in Oloron-Sainte-Marie (Francais)