The Cathedral of St Etienne of Bourges, built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art and is admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. Apart from the beauty of the architecture, it attests to the power of Christianity in medieval France. Bourges, the ancient Roman city of Avaricum, located in the Centre-Val de Loire region, was one of the first Christian communities of Gaul.
The cathedral, which was dedicated to the first Christian martyr, Saint Etienne, occupies the site of a place of worship since the 3rd century. The most remarkable characteristics of the cathedral are the perspective of the lateral walls and the unity of the interior space. The sculptures on the north and south doors, on the tympanum of the Door of the Last Judgement (at the centre of the west façade) and others like the sculpted rood screen comprise outstanding examples of Gothic art. The following centuries left their mark on the cathedral: the stained-glass windows hence comprise a true encyclopaedia of this art of the 14th , 15th and 16th centuries.
In the Renaissance period Bourges, in the historic French province of Berry, was in the centre of an intense intellectual life. A great university city with a reputation that reached the whole of Europe, the city possesses a rich architectural and artistic heritage linked to the great personalities who lived there.