Church of Saint Martin at Pau!

Winding down my vacation time, let me bring you back south to a lovely historical town we love. This is Pau  down in the Pyrénées Atlantiques department in 64  the region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. Folks come here for the views of the Pyrénées from the boulevard des Pyrénées, the Castle, and the tour de France which passes by here almost every year. However, we love to walk around and go into different places in town.

I like to tell you a bit more about the Church of Saint Martin, simply because it is related in history to the castle been just around it. It is a nice Church worth a detour in town.


A bit of history I like

The Church of Saint Martin is located in the heart of the city at the gates of the Castle of Pau district.  A first St. Martin Church was built between 1468 and 1472 on a site opposite the castle of Pau where a small Chapel occupied the location of the present Place de la Deportation near the castle. This chapel was enlarged in 1468 by the decision of Viscount Gaston IV and became the Church of St Martin which will remain the only parish church of Pau until 1801. Under the influence of the Albret family, the church became a Protestant temple between 1563 and 1620.

Too cramped for the population of the district, the Church of St. Martin will be replaced in 1871 by a new sanctuary placed a little further east. It will therefore be decided to destroy the old Church of St. Martin in 1885. Only its steeple remains;  it is the current tower of the Parliament of Navarre.



A bit of architecture I like

The new Church is of Gothic architecture with Byzantine influences.   A ciborium covers the altar. The warhead of the arcades is overridden, a form of Moorish inspiration.  It is found in the broken arch, the ribbed arches, the elongated windows, the hooks and the foliage that adorn the capitals. But the overrides arches, the presence of a ciborium and the richness of the décor testify to the influence of the Mozarabic style. The stained glass windows are the collaboration of Boeswillwad with the painter glassmaker Louis Steinheil, quite famous at the time for his works at the Holy Chapel (Sainte Chapelle of Paris) already in collaboration with Boeswillwald.

It consists of a central nave, flanked by two secondary naves, a transept (the arm of the Cross), a chorus (the head of Christ) completed by a seven-piece apse cut, and four other flanks, two square and two of polygonal shape.



The definitive location was only chosen in 1860, the old hotel Gontaut of which family was expulsed by imperial decree of 1856. The first stone was laid in 1863 and the works finally began in 1864. The church was inaugurated in 1871. the new Church of St. Martin is of Gothic architecture with Byzantine influences. The materials used are the stone of Arudy and the clearer stone of Angoulême . The dimensions are Length: 71 meters, Width: 36 meters, height of bell tower 77 meters.

The high altar is covered by the ciborium, which rests on four fine columns of white marble, the spherical cap is gilded copper. Christ in Majesty is at the center of the Tabernacle, and on both sides the emblems of the four Evangelists, in repelled and gilded copper, are detached.


The Church has a Werner organ as well as a carillon. Inside, a painting by the painter Eugène Devéria and precious objects were offered by Queen Isabel II, who was driven from Spain and donated them during her visit to Pau in 1868.


One webpage to help you plan your trip here in addition to my many posts on Pau is

Tourist office Pau Pyrenees on the area of the Church

As many things there are to see in Pau ,this one is something different nice, worth a detour. We like it and the grand square in front of it. Enjoy it

And remember, happy travels, good health ,and many cheers to all!!!


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2 Comments to “Church of Saint Martin at Pau!”

  1. We’ve been around Pau so many times, but never driven into it. We might have to make a special detour to enjoy these sites.

    Liked by 1 person

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