There has been a church on the site of the Saint-Sernin Basilica since the 4th century. The basilica is named in honor of Saint Saturnin (now Sernin), the first bishop of Toulouse, whose remains were housed here. Construction of the current Romanesque basilica finished in the early 12th century. As an important stop along the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, its vast proportions have been inspiring travelers for centuries and are still a marvel to behold. The basilica was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the 1990s for its connection with the Santiago pilgrimages.
The cathedral is an ideal place to take in as part of a guided walking tour or sightseeing bus or bike tour of the city. Architectural highlights include its unusual eight-sided, five-tiered tower, soaring rib-vaulted ceilings, 15th-century spire and crypt containing the relics of Saint-Sernin and many other saints.
Things to know before you go
- Entry to the basilica is free.
- The cathedral is wheelchair-accessible.
- The cathedral has the second largest collection of relics in the world.
- The organ at Saint-Sernin is considered one of the most important in France.
How to get there
The Saint-Sernin Basilica is located in Place Saint-Sernin on the northern edge of the Old Quarter of Toulouse. It’s within walking distance of other sites in the Old Quarter, and is served by the Jean d’Arc metro station. The city’s main train station is 20 minutes away on foot.
When to get there
The basilica is open daily year-round (except on bank holidays). Opening times vary by season so it’s best to check in advance. Toulouse city, like much of France’s southern Occitane region, enjoys a temperate, sunny climate. Spring or early autumn temperatures are agreeably warm, summer months are mostly hot and humid while winters are mild and can be rainy.
The Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage
The Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage or the Camino de Santiago, is a network of pilgrims' paths leading from all over Europe to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain. The pilgrimages have taken place since medieval times and the route is still highly popular today with both walkers and cyclists.
- Place du Capitole
- Garonne River
- Basilica of Our Lady of the Daurade (Notre-Dame de la Daurade)
- Museum of Augustins (Musée des Augustins)
- Pont Neuf
- Toulouse Cathedral (Cathedrale St-Etienne)
- Les Abattoirs Museum
- Space City (Cite de l'Espace)
- Fronton Wine Region
- Albi Cathedral
- Toulouse-Lautrec Museum (Musée Toulouse-Lautrec)
- Black Mountains (Montagne Noire)
- Lastours Castles (Châteaux de Lastours)