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Sauveterre church of Saint-André visitor guide

Photo of Sauveterre church of Saint-André

Visit Sauveterre church of Saint-André, France

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The Church of Saint-André is on the main square in the town of Sauveterre-de-Béarn, a small historic town in the Béarn province of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques.

Explore the Church of Saint-André in Sauveterre-de-Béarn

France This Way comment: the Church of Saint-André is a very interesting church that has retained substantial elements from its 12th century construction and now includes both roman and gothic architectural styles

At the front of the church there is a large porch, with the three arches at the front separated by moorish style columns. In the facade of the church above the porch there is a rose window with an ornamental surround in carved stone.

Roman columns in porch of Church of Saint-André in Sauveterre-de-Béarn

Inside the porch you can see the entrance to the church of Saint-André, with six stone columns either side of the door. The columns also have decorative capital stones, and above these are carvings of various busts and heads with all kinds of grimaces and other expressions.

Above this main door you can see the tympan, with the carvings including Christ and symbols of the four apostles (Saint Mark as the lion; Saint Matthew as the angel; Saint John as the eagle and Saint Luke as the bull). These are surrounded by carved statues of the angels. All these statues are very impressive and also in very good condition.

The apse at the rear of the church is another beautiful part of the building, with the tall semi-circular structure having three tall vertical windows and two small side chapels, very typical of roman style architecture.

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The north and south walls of the church also have rose windows, and from the sides you can see also the tall square tower, with the upper part pierced by three arched windows on each side, again in the moorish style.

You will notice that the tower is crenellated (just below the roof line, so the crenellations now look like a row of small windows), which tells us that the church was originally fortified - in fact, the Church of Saint-André played an important role in the defence of Sauveterre-de-Béarn in the medieval epoque.

On the southern side of the church you can see the Cagots door: the Cagots are a people from this region of the western Pyrenees that were rejected by the Béarnaise people and were the lowest echelon of society at that time (although welcomed by the church).

On the north wall of the church you can see a chrism: a carving representing the two first letters of Christ's name (in Greek).

Tympanum above entrance door in the church of Saint-André

Inside the Church of Saint-André, the gothic style arches that form the nave are the first thing you will notice. The layout of the church is traditional with three naves, a transept and an apse.

You can also see various wall paintings as well as further carved capital stones inside the church, mostly around the apse end of the building. Those representing jealousy and greed are painted and as startling tday as they must have been 700 years ago!

Attractions nearby

If you walk a few metres from the front entrance of the Church of Saint-André you are at a belvedere with a beautiful view across a meander in the river with the remains of a 12th century bridge called the Pont de la Légende, and the 13th century Monreal Tower that now contains the town museum telling the medieval history of Sauveterre-de-Béarn.

For more details about the town see the Sauveterre-de-Béarn guide.

See more churches in France. You can find more travel ideas in the Pyrenees-Atlantiques guide and the Aquitaine guide.

See also: 

Photos of Sauveterre church of Saint-André

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The French version of this page is at Sauveterre church of Saint-André (Francais)

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