The old porch (the Bishop's Porch) is just east of the South Tower. It has a double arch entry and is nicely but minimally decorated with stonecarving. The central column is octagonal and lightly reliefed. It has an interesting older atlantoid capital on its inner side. There is a floral frieze over the sealed-off door into the church. The porch is 13C but the 15C Bishop added a few of the touches: his coat-of arms emphasized hearts (his name Coeuret) so he replaced the old center column with a new carved one and put his coat of arms above the double entry to boot.
The great Porch was erected in the 14C but was finished under a 15C Bishop (Coeuret) who had power and funds. The opening and the side window arches are framed-in by carvings which seem to feature various saintly lives. The arches are recessed with carved voussoirs and there is fine stone tracery in the windows. The porch is large and heavily buttressed; the niches do not have statues. The doors into the church have recessed arches and a trefoil entry.
Every church with a patron saint strives to have a relic (or several) . These are always set in fine reliquaries.This one for Saint Samson "remains" and another for a Saint Magloire are of "gilded Dutch wood" (whatever that is), by Jean Le Fraoncois of Rouen (1746). Near the entrance door is a 15C stoup and then there are the 13C stained glass windows in the classic medallion style in the apse. (The right two vertical rows are from the Passion but are not sharp). Finally we were directed to another old (14C) Madonna and Child in a niche in the church wall.
There are many church objects to admire. Almost all of the tombs were destroyed during the revolution,. One of a 15C Bishop (Thomas James, 1482-1504) is particularly well carved and survives. There are a Humiliated Christ, the fine carved choir stalls and a panel painting all of the 14C plus a fine polychromed Madonna and Child of the same period
The interior is very long (100m!), with a set of 13C stained glass windows in the flat apse. The church has a characteristic 3-level elevation that continues all around the church. Reuse has been made of the main columns of the Romanesque church (which have been reinforced with applied columns in the Gothicizing. Note the fine vaulting. The old church was destroyed by John Lackland in 1201 when he sacked Dol. Later in remorse, he provided the funds for the new church. Also found here and preserved are two very fine capitals, whose designs are most modern and unusual,(can this be?), worth looking at.
Originally standing at the waterside, but now facing the reclaimed marshland, St. Samson Cathedral (named for its 6C evangelizing Irish monk of that name) looks like a fortress from the distance. This is because of its unfinished west front with unequal towers, its paucity of windows and its local granite substance. The long North side adds to the military look by having a crenellated parapet. The West front door is a simple rectangle under a carved central band (remains from a 12C earlier church). The only statue is a lonely bishop perched on top of the gable.The present church was built as a cathedral in the 13C; Dol lost its cathedral status in 1801. The South Tower is 15C, without a spire; a bell tower immediately behind it is 17C. The North tower started in 1520 quickly ran out of funds. Along the South side is a small porch (Bishop's Porch) of the 13C (with 15C redecorations) nicely sculpted overall. At the South transept is a grand porch (14-15C) with pointed arches, tracery filling the arches and windows, surrounded with bas-relief Biblical panels.
There's an attraction called The Cathedralscope which seems to be an interpretive centre about Cathedrals, but there wasn't any information inside in English for my husband, so we didn't visit that (seems to be a major attraction of the town, complete with nice giftshop with a huge range of books) but instead chose to visit the real Cathedral.
The reliefs and artwork on the of the Cathedral is really astonishing.
The Cathederal once held the bones of Saint Samson, some of which were taken to England by Henry II. The original Cathederal was burnt down by King John.
In 848 Nominoe was crowned King of Brittany here, and he made Dol the religous headquarters , and Dol had its first Archbishop.