The interior achieves its Gothic look by virtue of its height and well-lit interior. It is 4-story with round arched nave arcades supported on sturdy round pillars. There is a tall gallery-tribune which is encased in the supporting interior buttresses. Above this is a blind triforium and tall round topped clerestory windows. This 4-story approach was used in Notre Dame in Paris (which is 20% larger) and was soon abandoned.
Building of the present cathedral started in the second part of the 12C. It was built rapidly and the builders employed the latest technics (the beginnings of the Gothic). All of this came about probably out of remorse after the townspeople had murdered their hated Archbishop and set fire to his palace while concurrent fires destroyed their previous church. There were originally 7 towers, but only 5 survive. None have spires but the west facade is most impressive even though most of the windows show at most a slight break from the round topped Romanesque shapes. Here there are three impressive recessed arch portals. There are Rose windows on each face (a new Romanesque wrinkle that was taken up by Gothic churches). Because of this the east end is flat (without ambulatory or chapels. If you look up in the towers you will large carved oxen peering out. ( See our Customs Tip).
Other than the early Gothic structure, the church interior has only a few elements of interest. There is the elongated choir preceded by a grill, the finely carved pulpit of 1681, an 18C organ at the west end and long aisle with shallow chapel added.. Unfortunately we have no pictures of the 13C stained glass.
At the other end of town from the Cathedral is the Abbey church of St.-Martin, also built in the 12-13C and reconstructed after WWII bombing. It has a long Romanesque nave and is taller than the cathedral. Its towers on the West terminate in spires. The facade on that end is mixed Gothic with a large window above the main door. There are tympani on the lateral doors. On the left St. Lawrence is being martyred on a grill and on the right John the Baptist is being beheaded. It was closed and we could not see the interior.
This is a beautiful and historic old cathedral with wonderful 13th Century stained glass and a white stone interior that really gives it a very luminous quality. What I really like about it, though, is that the beasts who lugged the huge stones up to the top of the hill have apparently been honored by having statues of oxen all around the towers. They took the animal theme even further as there are gargoyles which are a rhinoceros and a hippo.
One of the interesting historic facts is that one of their chapter members became Pope Urban IV. Architecturally it is considered one of the best examples of early Gothic and is of very harmonious style as the chapter was very rich and had it built in one uninterrupted period of 30 years. It is also notable for its 5 towers (of the 7 originally planned).
In the town there are narrow streets and some old houses with some nice vistas from the promenades (See our Intro).