The collegiate church and its homogenous architecture

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Eric Sparhubert interview, Medieval History lecturer at the University of Limoges :

« The Collegiate church is quite a homogenous building. It is the result of an uninterrupted construction plan. Its original layout was pre-established, cleverly thought out and well-financed. The Canons’ monumental choices were the result of a true monumental ambition, with elements such as an ambulatory chevet and radiating chapels, the crossing tower, large transept, large nave, and a façade massif, which are typical monumental elements of great Limousin Romanesque churches, such as Saint-Martial church in Limoges, and Limoges cathedral, to name a few examples.

What shows that we are dealing with a project as a whole is the construction’s homogeneity. So an uninterrupted building constructed following a plan, which shows that it was probably pre-established. Its harmony also comes from the fact that it was hardly restored and scarcely modified throughout the years. Thus, the collegiate church is an extremely homogenous edifice, with a type of original pureness, which is actually quite rare for a 12th century building, with the exception of the 15th century fortification tower on the axis chapel.

The crossing tower, which is a lantern tower, is one of the collegiate church’s most remarkable architectural elements. This type of tower is set upon a level of lighting, so that the choir is lit up. A true testimony of architectural bravery, which is part of a tradition – namely that of Saint-Junien collegiate church, which has a large crossing tower. However, Le Dorat’s crossing tower is both larger and more monumental.»

There is a crypt, hidden beneath the church choir. Its plan and dimensions are the same as the chevet’s. Its apse, which holds an altar, is surrounded by an ambulatory which opens up onto three small radiating apses. This architectural system was conceived to greet a flow of pilgrims, who came to the church for a procession before relics.

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From the church to the Bergere Door

The collegiate church and its homogenous architecture


This great Romanesque church, called a “collegiate church” because it was part of a chapter of canons, has kept its harmonious 12th century architecture. Learn all about its construction thanks to Eric Sparhubert.

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