Carcassonne is filled with historic houses of worship.
1. Basilique Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse de Carcassonne (Basilica of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celsus) Located within the citadel of la Cité de Carcassonne, the “Jewel of the City,” has a harmonious coexistence between the Romanesque and Gothic windows which are the finest in the South of France. The first church was built in the sixth century, under the reign of the Visigoths. The first written record of the church dates from 925. In 1096, Pope Urban II came to Carcassonne and blessed the construction of what would become the Basilica of Saint Nazaire and Saint Celsus. The building was completed in the first half of the twelfth century. The nave and aisles remain in the Romanesque style. Gothic alterations were completed in the fourteenth century. The church was rebuilt many times and eventually lost its cathedral status in 1803 to Saint Michael’s Cathedral in the Bastide. Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse received the title of Basilica in 1898 from Pope Leo XIII.
2.) Cathédrale Saint-Michel de Carcassonne (Saint Michael’s Cathedral of Carcassonne) The church was designed in the Languedoc Gothic style. Built and rebuilt over the thirteenth, fourteenth, and nineteenth centuries, Saint Michael’s Cathedral originated as a parish church until 1803 when it was elevated as the seat of the Roman Catholic bishop for Carcassonne replacing Saint-Nazaire-et-Saint-Celse as the Cathedral for the diocese and used by the Priestly Order of Saint Peter. The Cathedral is designated as a French National Monument. Rebuilding the church was required after the invasion of the Black Prince and the destruction of the Ville Basse in 1355. There was also a devastating fire in 1849 that ravaged the church. Famous architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, known for his restoration of French historical monuments, led nearly 20 years of extensive restoration to the church.
3.) Eglise Saint-Vincent (Saint Vincent Church) This thirteenth century Roman Catholic church was also designed in the Languedoc Gothic style with an impressive 23.5 meter high vaulted roof. Climbing the 234 steps of the 54 meter high octagonal bell tower will lead past the 47 bells to a view of the Ville Basse and La Cite’. In the fifteenth century, rose windows and stained-glass windows were added to the church.
4.) Eglise des Carmes (Church of the Carmelites) The sparse Languedoc Gothic style Roman Catholic church was built at the end of the thirteenth century by the Order of the Brothers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. There is also a Carmelite Covent. In 1966, the Carmelite chapel became a parish church and in the 1970s it became an annex parish to Saint Michael and Saint Vincent. The former convent, located on Rue de la Liberté, has been the offices of the diocese since 1981.
5.) Chapelle Notre Dame de la Santé (Chapel of Our Lady of Health) This small Roman Catholic chapel was built on the west side of the Pont Vieux (old bridge) with money from the legacy of Jean de Saix in 1527 for the creation of the plague hospital. The chapel’s gothic interior features beautiful ribbed vaults and tiercerons. The chapel was used by patients and families of the former hospital.
6.) Eglise Protestante Unie De Carcassonne – Communion Luthériens et Réformés (Protestant Church – French United Reformed Church) France is about 86% Roman Catholic, 7% Muslim, 2% Protestest, 1% Jewish, with 4% unaffiliated. This is literally the protestant church in Carcassonne. Apparently this church was established in 1562 by the Reformed Church of France after persecution of the Huguenots had subsided. There appears to have been a major renovation was started in 1888 and completed in 1890. Protestant church worshippers are mainly found in southeastern France.
7.) Mosquée Salam à Carcassonne (Salam Mosque in Carcassonne) French of Maghreb origin (having at least one grandparent from the former French colonies of Algeria, Morocco or Tunisia) in France form the largest ethnic group after French of European origin. This Maghreb influence is also reflected in 7% of the population being Muslim.
There is no Jewish Synagogue in Carcassonne. In 1394 Jews, blamed for the Black Death among other imaginary crimes, were expelled from Carcassonne and fled to Provence. After the invasion of France by the Nazis during World War II, a number of Jews returned and found refuge in Carcassonne, then in the unoccupied zone. Today the small Jewish population of Carcassonne has to travel to Toulouse or Montpellier for synagogue.
5 thoughts on “Carcassonne: Places of Worship”
I honestly loved the part of your mom commenting here the best! I got a bit teary eyed there. Gorgeous pics. Amazing history behind them and how ancient they are compared to a church in America.
Thank Mike, we are enjoying learning the history as we get to know the town. The writing let me consolidate my thoughts.
Dear Tracy and Alan
I have read all of your posts they are very interesting, sorry I havn’t answered all of them. I am not a big writer like you and Alan. I really miss hearing your voice. I have been kind of busy I hope some year we will be able to come and see you both of you. I hope you have a great Mothers Day even though your kids aren’t going to be with you. I love and miss you both very
Love Mom Sent from my iPad
Happy Mother’s Day!
Thanks Mom! Miss you and hope you have a super fun Mother’s Day!!