Wonderful Orthez and St Pierre !

And continuing on the Pyrénées Atlantiques of my belle France , I take you to another off the beaten path for most visitors. This is the town of Orthez and to show the nice St Peter’s Church. I have written before in my blog on the town and briefly on the Church.

The Church of Saint-Pierre in Orthez, department 64 of the Pyrénées-Atlantiques, in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region. The Church is said to be built by the Viscount de Béarn. It is the testimony of the past greatness of Orthez. It dates from the 14-15C. Orthez was the capital of Béarn in the 12C following Morlaàs and before Pau. It was an important city at the crossroads of the route from Toulouse to Dax and on the Vicomtale road that led to the Pyrenees, a passage from the Gave de Pau.


In rarity, there is not much documentation on the Church. There is no document to establish the conditions for the Church of the choir and the nave. The establishment of Orthez as the seat of the Viscounts of Béarn had to lead to the work of the Church of St. Peter in the 13C. They started with the construction of the chorus of modest proportion. Some historians believe that the work had to stop there at the death of Gaston VII of Béarn, in 1290, and that they did not resume until the death of Gaston Fébus, in 1391, when the city would have received a part of the treasure lying in the tower of Moncade.




Some parts of the nave are ancient, probably, prior to the 14C. It appears that the supporting columns were placed in older masonry and their bases are not posterior to 1400 and can be traced back to the time of the construction of the balusters of the bedside. Comparison of the north and south walls show sensitive differences. Today’s blind openings of the north wall recall those made in the small chapel against the north arm of the transept and the first span of the nave. This north wall of the first span is oblique. This may suggest that it was necessary to connect the eastern parts of the Church to the already existing walls of the nave. The high parts of the north wall had to be redone when the current vaults were made. The key representing the old bridge with three spans seems to indicate that the vault was made before the 16C, when a fourth arch was added to the bridge.



Among the peculiarities of the Church of St Pierre are the absence of collateral and the highest vault of the Béarn with 18 meters at the dome. Inside ,it houses a sketch for the   panel of the Pantheon-the Martyrdom of Saint Denis which was offered by the Beaux-Arts Museum in 1924. Two wooden statues-one representing Ste. Anne, mother of Mary ,and grandmother of Jesus, and the other Saint James-also decorate the Church. In 1870, Aristide Cavaillon-Coll built an organ. The organ was restored in 1925 and in 1958. The original organ of Cavaillon-Coll was again restored in 1982.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

City of Orthez on heritage

Tourist office of the heart of Bearn on heritage

This is an unique city with lot more to see off the beaten path and a great gateway to the Pyrénnées and Spain, we passed by it often over the years. Orthez is nice.

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

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2 Comments to “Wonderful Orthez and St Pierre !”

  1. Looks like an excellent spot!

    Liked by 1 person

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