Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
New Delhi, India
July 14, 2009
The cousin with whom we were staying in Lausanne had given us detailed instructions, so after getting off the Metro at Lausanne Gare, our first task was to find the tourist office and get a map of Lausanne. You don’t really even need to search for the cathedral on the map: it’s the city’s pride and joy, so images of it—photos, illustrations, little icons—are plastered liberally across all tourist literature.
The trek up from Place de la Gare (the main railway station of Lausanne) to the Cathedral was longish, and uphill all the way. It’s a gentle climb most of the way, and with interesting sights en route as well: the Eglise de St François, the Rue de Bourg (which, since it was a Saturday, was home to a colourful and attractive farmers’ market), across the imposing bridge of the Pont Charles Bessières, and finally up a steep incline to the cathedral itself, with its 75mt steeple rising high above the surrounding roofs.
Officially known as the Cathédrale de Nôtre-Dame, the Lausanne Cathedral was constructed between the mid 12th century and the 13th century. The original site had been a Roman camp, which had later given way to, in turn, Carolingian and Romanesque basilicas. This church, we realised even before we got there, is no upstart.
On the outside, the cathedral is grand enough, but not in the staggeringly awesome styles of, for instance, the Nôtre-Dame in Paris or the Stephansdom in Vienna. The roofs are red tiled, the steeple multiple-sided, and like most of the exterior, of plain grey stone. It was only when we got to the cathedral and made our way around to the western entrance—known as the Montfalcon Portal—that we stopped and stared, eyes goggling, at the superbly carved tympanum of the portal. This is carving at its most ornate: a pointed arch, carved with row upon row of Biblical scenes, the Last Judgement, statues of the saints, and fine tracery.
This intricate carving, though it’s tinged with black and looks positively ancient, isn’t however authentic. All the statues here are replicas of carvings originally made between 1515 and 1536.
Inside, the cathedral proved relatively austere. Rows of plain wooden pews—cane-seat chairs joined together in rows with a long bar of wood near the ground—stretch below a plain grey vaulted ceiling. The arched walls on either side have rows of circular arches along the top and there are some stained glass windows, but that’s it. Not much there to distract worshippers from their devotions. Incidentally, the church, though it was consecrated in 1275 by Pope Gregory X, has been Protestant ever since the Reformation.
A little exploration, though, and we did find traces of some very fine decoration. The Rose Window wins hands down, with its fine depictions of figures (I hadn’t thought to carry my binoculars so couldn’t see these very well; Biblical figures, one assumes). It consists of over a hundred component pieces of stained glass and dates back to the 13th century. It looms up above the altar, on one side, and surrounding the altar is a sort of semicircular `well’ that contains the plaques and memorials of various personages through the years.
The two other highlights of the cathedral are the Chapelle St Maurice and the vestibule. The Chapelle St Maurice was my favourite: I’m partial to loads of highly carved and polished wood, and the fine carving of the Gothic stalls in this chapel left me dazzled. Awesome.
The vestibule, which juts out on one side of the cathedral, is a good place to sit for a spell. No chairs here, but Tarun and I found a low ledge that made a convenient (if hard) bench and offered a good view of the vestibule’s interior. This is decorated all over the inside with carvings and Gothic murals from the 1500’s, and is worth at least a couple of minutes’ ogling.
With piped choral music playing softly in the background, flowers around the altar, and just a few other visitors, the Lausanne Cathedral was, in our opinion, a great start to our vacation. The fact that there’s no entry fee is, of course, in its favour. But then so are the added attractions around: there’s a large terrace outside that offers a fabulous view of the city, Lac Leman and the Alps; there’s the picturesque winding wooden staircase known as the Escalier du Marché, which leads down to Rue Mercerie, and there’s the superb Musée Historique, opposite the cathedral.
A must see.
From journal Exploring Lausanne
April 6, 2006
From journal 3 Months in CH
April 19, 2004
Take a girl there, show her the view as sun sets over the lake, and kiss her--she will be yours forever.
Go around the cathedral and you will end up in the hart of the oldest part of the city. Things have unusual names here (“The White Elephant” and “The Green Rabbit.”) There is a castle somewhere behind, a huge medieval building, and a monument to Napoleon in front of it. Its neo-baroque style is in sharp contrast to the rough stone of the castle. It is all quiet and calm here on normal day, sort of a place to relax and think.
Go here during La Fete de la Cite, and it’s a different world, all vibrant and full of music from 10 different stages. There were thousands of people mingling around and dancing in the streets! And it goes on for seven days each July.
From journal Lausanne (the Overlooked)
July 20, 2002
It was began in 1173 and consecrated by Pope Gregory X in 1275. Built to a cruciform plan, with a nave and two aisles before a raised apsidal choir surrounded by an ambulatory , the cathedral has a tower above the crossing. The 13th century southern entrance is refered to as the Apostoles’ Doorway and contains sculptures depicting the Death and Assumption of the Virgin Mary, Christ in Majesty, prophets and apostles.
The interior is austere but the sheer size of the building impresses. The glass in the beautiful rose window of the south transept is early 13-th century, and the choir-stalls placed along the south wall of the nave are also 13-th century, some of the oldest in Switzerland. From the south aisle you can climb a staircase (232 steps!) to a stupendous view over the city, lake and the Alps.
Night Watch Call is another amazing feature which we enjoyed. We stayed in a Hotel du Marché a few block from the cathedral and came to the cathedral square around 10 PM. Maintaining the tradition, the hour is called by an "All is Well" from the cathedral tower between 10 PM and 2 AM.
From journal Lovely Lausanne