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Rouen Cathedral Historical Facts and Pictures

Covered in flamboyant Gothic stonework, the Rouen Cathedral is an ancient Roman Catholic cathedral located in the city of Rouen in the Normandy region of France. The Cathedral is the Archbishop of Rouen’s area of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. It is overlooked by three towers including the Tour Saint-Roman (built: 12th century) containing the 64-bell carillon, utilizing 36 tons of bronze and iron; the 250 ft tall Tour de Beurre (built: 16th century), and the Tour-Lanterne (built: 19th century).

Rouen Cathedral

Rouen Cathedral


At the cathedral site in Rouen, there was a church built by Bishop Victricius during the late 4th century. The building was destroyed during the Viking invasion in the 9th century, but it was rebuilt and enlarged by Richard I, the grandson of Viking leader Rollo. The consecration of the church in 1063 was done in the presence of William I.

Based on the Gothic style at Saint-Denis Basilica in Paris, the cathedral was reconstructed in 1145 by Hugh of Amiens. In 1200, a devastating fire ruined most parts of the cathedral except the Saint-Romain tower, the left portal, and the nave arcades. The remainder of the church building and the choir were rebuilt in a more matured 13th-century Gothic style.

The cathedral in Rouen was given a makeover during the 15th century when the Butter Tower was added, and the façade, as well as the upper parts of the left tower, were renovated. Over the years, other spires and towers were added, the most notable being the Lantern Tower. The cathedral, despite being bombed several times during the WWII, narrowly escaped complete destruction. It sustained heavy damage as the Saint-Romain Tower was burnt, the bells were melted, the south aisle was ruined, and two rose windows were destroyed.

Rouen Cathedral Monet

Oscar Claude Monet, an impressionist artist, created a series of famous paintings of the Rouen Cathedral representing the same scene in various weather conditions as well as at different times of a day. Twelve paintings of Rouen Cathedral by Monet, including the portal of Rouen Cathedral in the morning light, are housed in the art galleries and museums across Europe and the US. Each of these paintings is now worth more than 40 million dollars.


  • Porte St-Jean (Left Portal): This is one of the most important architectural features of the 12th-century in existence. The sufferings of St. John the Baptist have been represented in the tympanum.
  • Porte Central (Main Door): It is designed with sculptures representing the lineage of Jesus.
  • Porte St-Etienne (Right Portal): It is consecrated to St. Stephen.
  • Nave: The 12th-century nave or the body of the church is similar to that of the Laon Cathedral, and it has restrained height with four-story elevation.
  • Choir: This 13th-century choir fourteen soaring pillars, 15th-century ornately carved ledges, and pointed arcades.
  • Interior: The Cathedral interior is characterized by vibrant stained glass portraying art periods from the Medieval Period to early Renaissance. Massive stone columns with carved faces and restored stained glasses illustrating the crucified Christ are some of the highlights of the Rouen Cathedral.
  • Booksellers’ Stairway (Escalier de la Librairie): Rising from a small balcony, the stairway is decorated with a stained-glass window that dates back to the 1500s.
  • Burials: Among the tombs of the royalty and the cardinals, the most famous is that of Richard the Lionheart located to the right of the choir.



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Quick Info

Cathedrale primatiale Notre-Dame de l’Assomption de Rouen

49.4402° N and 1.0950° E

3 Rue Saint-Romain, 76000 Rouen, France
October 1, 1063
495 ft (151 m)
Classee Monument Historique in 1862