Église Sainte-Anne d'Arles

Church in Arles

1024px-Église Sainte-Anne D’Arles
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Guiguilacagouille

The Sainte-Anne Church, originally known as Notre-Dame-la-Principale, stands as the inaugural parish of the Roman Catholic rite in the heart of Arles, France. Falling into disuse after the Revolution and once serving as the repository for the city’s lapidary museum, it has been recognized as a historic monument since 1875 and is currently utilized as an exhibition space.

Situated in the Bouches-du-Rhône department within the commune of Arles, the church is positioned in Place de la République, at the northwest corner adjacent to the Hôtel-de-ville.

History of Église Sainte-Anne d’Arles

Esteemed as the premier parish in the city’s center, it, along with the Saint-Julien church, was a congregational point for Arles’s most affluent families. After its initial construction in 1175, the church was on the brink of collapse until Archbishop Gaspard du Laurens commanded its reconstruction on August 29, 1613. Though officially consecrated on Saint Anne’s Day in 1628, which influenced its name, completion didn’t occur until circa 1630. It became a repository for Saint Anne’s relics, presented in a silver-gilt bust, and was managed by the Oratorians until the Revolution.

With Saint-Trophime taking over as the central parish church after losing its cathedral status, Sainte-Anne was repurposed by an imperial decree in 1805 into a lapidary museum for pagan art, established in 1826 and remaining until 1996. Since then, it has been repurposed for temporary exhibitions.

Description of Église Sainte-Anne d’Arles

Featuring a Gothic architectural style, the church’s nave, complemented by elevated side chapels, spans five bays. The choir, more narrow than the nave and oriented west, concludes in a pentagonal apse adorned with the coat of arms of Archbishop Gaspard du Laurens. Lacking a transept, the church retains no original period furniture.

The church’s main facade, facing east towards Saint-Trophime, is characterized by its simplicity. Underneath the subdued triangular pediment with a modillon cornice, two coats of arms are visible, despite being defaced during the Revolution; one previously bore the French royal arms, a nod to Louis XIII’s financial contribution towards the church’s reconstruction during his 1622 visit to Arles, and the other, the city’s arms. Initially, a niche above the entrance portal held a statue of the Virgin, later replaced by a bust of Minerva when the building transitioned into a lapidary museum.

Additionally, a side entrance is located at the end of Impasse Balze, adjacent to the old Palace of the Podestats, granting access to the choir’s north-facing pentagonal apse.

The Église Sainte-Anne d'Arles appears in our Complete Guide to Visiting Arles!

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Visiting Église Sainte-Anne d'Arles

Address: Église Sainte-Anne d'Arles, Place de la République, Arles, France
Duration: 20 minutes

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