Église Saint Trophime d'Arles

Church in Arles

1280px-Arles Eglise Saint Trophime
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Wolfgang Staudt

The St. Trophime Church, formerly a cathedral, is a notable Roman Catholic structure located in Arles, southern France. Constructed from the 12th to the 15th century, it epitomizes Romanesque architecture. Particularly, the sculptures above its portal, depicting the Last Judgement, and the cloister columns are among the most exemplary Romanesque sculptures.

Built on a 5th-century basilica dedicated to St. Stephen, the church was significantly expanded in the 15th century with the addition of a Gothic choir to its Romanesque nave. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, as part of the Roman and Romanesque Monuments of Arles, highlighting its value among Arles’s medieval and Roman buildings.

Throughout its history, the church has seen various notable events, including the transfer of St. Trophime relics in 1152 and the crowning of emperors Frederick Barbarossa in 1178 and Charles IV in 1365. The church transitioned from a cathedral to a simple parish church in 1801 and was elevated to a minor basilica in 1882.

St. Trophime was central to a bustling Arles, a city important for its port and religious activities, including several religious orders like the Knights Templar. Its architecture includes a high nave, smaller side aisles, a central bell tower, and a hemispherical vault at the altar’s east end, with small, high windows.

Aside from its Romanesque roots, St. Trophime houses art from various periods, including Late Roman sarcophagi, Baroque paintings, and tapestries. The west portal, with its Apocalypse and Gospel representations, and the cloister, showcasing the contrast between Romanesque and early Gothic styles, are particularly notable. The cloister served as a communal space for Canons, reflecting a reform by Pope Gregory requiring a monastic lifestyle.

The construction of the cloister began in the 12th century, highlighting stories from the Easter Mystery and patron saints of Arles through its carvings. Despite interruptions, it was completed in the Gothic style in the late 14th century, symbolizing a stylistic transition over time.

The Église Saint Trophime d'Arles appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Arles!

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Visiting Église Saint Trophime d'Arles

Address: Eglise Saint-Trophime, Place de la République, Arles, France
Duration: 20 minutes

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