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The Medieval entrance to the Cathedral of Saint-Pierre.

A stitch of two photographs.

The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre (Saint Peter) in Montpellier was originally the chapel of the Benedictine monastery of St. Benedict, founded in 1364 by Pope Urban V and which now houses the Medical School. The church was raised to a cathedral in 1536, when the Episcopal seat was transferred from Maguelone in Montpellier.

Four towers stand at the corners of the nave, one of which was torn down during the iconoclastic movement of 1567. The building is equipped with important defensive elements, making it a fortress. At the end of the sixteenth century, it was in fact, nicknamed the "Fort Saint-Pierre." One of façades was crowned by machicolations fitted with firing slots, behind which ran a path way inside the thickness of the wall.

The Medieval entrance seen in this image, and which is no longer used, is fronted by a massive porch, consisting of two tusk like cylindrical pillars with a canopy connecting the pillars to provide shelter below.

The above mentioned elements are virtually the only remains of the medieval architecture of the cathedral that can still be observed today.

During the wars of religion, the cathedral was the target of Protestant attacks. On 20 October 1561, after a siege during the night, the mob entered through a breach in the walls of the cathedral where some Catholic dignitaries had taken refuge accompanied by a troop of soldiers. The extent of the massacre that followed varies between 8 and 50 deaths according to reports at the time.

In 1567, the cathedral again suffered an onslaught from Protestants who this time fired cannons on the building. A tower collapsed bringing the whole building down with it.

The building that can be seen today is largely the result of rebuilding work that took place in the 18th century supplemented by enlargements carried out in the following century when the bell tower was also reconstructed.

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Additional Photos by Stephen Nunney (snunney) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 9000 W: 63 N: 25307] (112639)
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