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Your Location: World Europe France Haute-Normandie Rouen Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen


Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen


Structure in General

existing [completed]


church (roman catholic)


  • The cathedral's tower is the tallest church tower in France.
  • The basic structure was completed in 1220, but a major fire destroyed part of the church in 1822 and in 1824 construction began on the tower to replace the damaged portion.
  • This was the world's tallest structure until surpassed by the Cologne Hohe Domkirche St. Peter und Maria in 1880.
  • The gothic forms of the cathedral's Butter Tower influenced the design of the famous Tribune Tower in Chicago.
  • An early church from the Carolingian period stood on this spot until it was replaced in 1020 by a Romanesque cathedral, whose construction was finished in 1063.
  • The construction of the current cathedral starts with the ‘tour Saint Romain’ in Romanesque style. This is the current tower at the north side of western façade.
  • In the period 1170-1180, construction of the western façade is done. The general works continue by the reconstruction of the nave.
  • In 1200, during the great city fire, the Romanesque choir and the unfinished reconstructed nave are greatly damaged.
  • Initially the current architect Jean d’Andely stays with the original plan for the reconstruction. However, some modifications are introduced under influence of Notre-Dame de Chartres.
  • The use of flying buttresses makes tribunes redundant, however the architect decided to use both and to reduce the tribunes in size.
  • After the great city fire, first the nave and then the choir are reconstructed, next the transept was built.
  • At the intersection with nave and transept a lantern tower is placed, tipycally for Normandy gothic architecture. This finishes the early gothic cathedral of Rouen.
  • Starting in 1270, several chapels are added to the lower sides of the nave. This addition results in widening the nave by four meters on both sides.
  • In 1280 portals are added to both sides of the transept.
  • The cathedral is enlarged in length with 25 m in 1302 by reconstructing the axial chapel, the chapel of the Holy Virgin.
  • Starting in 1370 all windows of the nave and choir are enlarged in late-gothic style.
  • During the Hundred years War further reconstruction plans are interrupted.
  • In 1485 the butter tower (la Tour Beurre – southern tower on the western façade) is constructed.
  • After the spire was destroyed by fire, the lantern tower is increased one level and a new spire is mounted on top in 1540. The height is this spire was 132 m.
  • Like many other religious buildings, the cathedral greatly suffers from the religious wars and the French Revolution.
  • On September fifteen 1822, the spire was destroyed by lightning. A new and higher spire (the current one) in cast iron was placed in 1876.
  • The lantern tower and spire were severely damaged after seven bombs hit the cathedral, on April 19 1944. This called for a thorough restoration, which was finished in June 1956.

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Place de la Cathedrale

Technical Data

151.00 m
151.00 m