Lescar, Cathedral and more !!!

Let’s keep it down south, of France that is. A lovely region that we had enjoyed tremendously over the years, and always looking forward to return. Let me tell you a bit more on a very nice quant town. Lescar is located at 6.5 km  west of Pau;  it is also 52 km north of Urdos, which allows the passage to Spain (via the Col du Somport), heck yeah for many years our route even before the tunnel was built !!!

At Lescar you come into the Cathedral of the Kings of Navarre, and its wonderful.  The Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption.  Here by the Cathedral there is a small but interesting museum of antiquities from the findings in the area dating to Romanesques times, located at the old cellars of the episcopal palace.

lescar

lescar

lescar

You, also , have interesting ruins of a castle and citadel up at pont Saint Louis very nice rustique natural setting, you can climb from the bottom parking lot thru the river and up the ruins into the high city and the Cathedral.  Here was the old bishophery from the 6C and from the 10C a  baptistry dedicated to Saint-John-the Baptist.  Later a repenting soldier built a chapel , “Loup-Fort”,where it was dedicated to Saint Mary.

lescar

lescar

The medieval town develops on a rocky headland , overlooking the gave (river) to the south, and bounded by the brook of Lescourre to the north and then to the plain of the Pont-Long. Lescar is the heir of the Gallo-Roman city of Beneharnum, the first capital of the people of Venarni which gives its name to the former sovereign state of Béarn. Having lost its role as capital Béarnaise, in favor of Morlaàs, the city rebuilt at the end of the 10C under the impulse of the Duke of Biscay Guillaume Sancho. He built a chapel in the upper town dedicated to Saint Mary, which is consecrated Cathedral in 1062. It became the seat of the bishops of Lescar, following the primitive Cathedral of Saint-Julien in Lower town. Taking part in the Reconquista in the 12C, Bishop Guy de Lons replaced  the Chapel-Cathedral by constructing the present Our Lady of Assumption Cathedral in the Romanesque style in  1790 as part of a grouping with Bayonne and Oloron.  From this period, Lescar retains several heritage elements including its ramparts (partly ancient), with the gates or Porte de l’Esquirette and certain towers constituting them. It remains one of the stages of the Via Tolosana, on the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela. Lescar became an educational center, first with the installation of the Protestant Academy of Béarn in 1562, then with the decision of king Henri IV to establish a college of Barnabites. This college built in the 18C is the ancestor of the current lycée Jacques-Monod.

More on the history of this amazing small town which we stopped by every year we passed by .   The birth of Lescar as a city occurs in the 1C, from the time of the Roman occupation of Aquitaine. The city becomes the capital of the people of Venarni, sheltering in Lower town the bulk of the habitat and activities. The earliest Roman period occupation indices date back to around 15-10 B.C., but a true urban plot only appears from the second quarter of the 1C. It was at the end of the 10C that the city was reborn, under the impetus of the Dukes of Biscay and, in particular, Guillaume Sancho. Legend has it that a soldier, named Loup Fort or strong wolf, finds in the ancient city only a forest and a baptistery dedicated to Saint John Baptiste in the  Upper town. Loup-Fort then built a Church under the Saint Mary name in this place, in repentance of past crimes. This Church became a Cathedral in 1058, before its official consecration in 1062. The name Beneharnum is abandoned for that of Lescar, the city rebuilt on the rocky spur in the 5C.  The ramparts of the city are reinforced, while the Cathedral attributed to Loup-Fort is rebuilt in the 12C in the Romanesque style, mainly under the episcopate of Guy de Lons, it takes the name of Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption. Already highly independent since its formation around the 9C, Béarn won its independence in 1347 under Gaston Fébus,  it is in the Cathedral of Lescar that the Kings and Queens of Navarre choose to be buried from 1483 to 1555.

After becoming king of France in 1589, Béarn Henri IV promulgated the Edict of Fontainebleau for the Catholics of Béarn in 1599. It is necessary to wait 1610 for the Cathedral of Lescar to be restored in its Catholic cult, but it is the military expedition of King Louis XIII in 1620 which allows to restore definitively the Catholic cult in the whole country of Béarn.  The historical part of the town is composed of ancient houses dating for most of the 18C, sporting a classic Béarn style with roof steep covered with slates, stones of size at angles and openings, sponge cake between the roof and the wall, Pebbles of the gave river to make the walls. Older houses of the 16C and 17C are also present in the city, made especially for the canons of Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption dating partially from the 12C and 13C.  The Cathedral of Notre Dame de l’Assomption is considered the most imposing Romanesque building in Béarn.

In all a wonderful town to visit, hope you have enjoy the post. Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and its worth a detour are

City of Lescar on heritage and Cathedral

Tourist office of Pau and region on the Cathedral of Lescar

There you go another splendid recommendation to come and enjoy the Nouvelle Aquitaine and the wonderful Pyrénées-Atlantiques dept 64 (old Béarn) as well as the lovely city of Lescar!

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

 

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One Comment to “Lescar, Cathedral and more !!!”

  1. Another little hidden gem. Lovely photos! 👍❤

    Liked by 1 person

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