The town of Périgueux is situated in Dordogne in south-western France, but the five cupolas and turrets of the Saint-Front Cathedral seem to belong to another part of the world. It was modeled after the magnificent San Marco Cathedral in Venice, which was originally based on the 6th century church of the Holy Apostles in Byzantine Constantinople. Saint-Front’s characteristic domes then went on to become the blueprint for the iconic profile of the Sacré-Coeur Basilica on the Montmarte hill in Paris.
As with San Marco in Venice, the floor plan of Saint-Front is based on a Greek cross layout, each arm being of equal length. The domes used to be of slightly different dimensions. The supporting piers have a section of 6 metres, but the mass is attenuated by two perpendicular passages.
The architect Paul Abadie also designed Sacré-Coeur in Paris, built in the wake of the reconstruction of Saint-Front in Périgueux. He and his team enlarged the domes of the old and damaged Saint-Front basilica in the years between 1852 and 1895.
The history of the cathedral is linked to the legend of Saint-Front who evangelized Périgord in the 4th or 5th century. The first church was built by here around 500-536 but the Normans destroyed it around 845.
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