In the Place de la Cathédrale, in the center of the old town of Rouen on the right bank of the Seine, stands the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame, one of the largest and most magnificent in France. The main structure was completed between 1202 and 1220 and the transept was built in 1280, but the building was not completed until the 16th C.
The most striking feature of the elaborately articulated west front (1509-1530, 56 m/184ft long), which was several times painted by Claude Monet, is the large central doorway, with a fine "Tree of Jesse" (1520-1524) in the tympanum.
The facade is flanked by two towers: on the left the Tour St- Romain, the lower parts of which (c. 1150) belonged to an earlier Romanesque church burned down about 1200, and on the right the Tour du Beurre or Butter Tower (1485-1507), so called because it was paid for by offerings from the faithful, who in return were permitted to eat butter during Lent. The spire over the crossing is the highest in France (151 m/495ft); it is made of cast-iron (1824-1876), and replaces an earlier stone spire destroyed by lightning in 1822. The side doorways are also very beautiful, particularly the one on the north side, the richly sculptured Portail des Libraires, named after the booksellers' shops once numerous in this quarter. Also of interest is the fine south doorway, the Portail de la Calende.
The interior of the Cathedral, restored after the severe damage it suffered during the Second World War, still preserves some old stained glass. Behind the high altar is the Chapelle de la Vierge (Lady Chapel, 1302-1320), on the left-hand wall of which is the tomb of Pierre II de Brézé (d. 1465) and his wife, and next to it the white marble tomb of his grandson Louis de Brézé (d. 1531), by Jean Cousin and Jean Goujon (1535-1544). Opposite, on the right- hand wall, is the tomb of Cardinals Georges I and II of Amboise (d. 1510 and 1541), both archbishops of Rouen, by Roulland Le Roux, a master builder who worked on the Cathedral and the Palais de Justice (1522-1525). In the crypt, which belonged to the earlier 11th C. church, is preserved the heart of Charles V. Opposite the Cathedral stands a pretty Renaissance building (1510), formerly the Bureau des Finances, now the Rouen Tourist Office.
Adjoining the Cathedral on the east is the Archbishop's Palace (Archevêché), parts of which date from the 15th C.