I know what you’re thinking. Another cathedral, really? Didn’t we just see that really old (and super cool, right?!) Roman Cathedral in Trier, too? Okay, okay, but you really have to see Saint-Stephen of Metz. Rule-breaking layout, endless stained glass windows, and funky gargoyles. It was by far the coolest cathedral I visited on our farewell-to-summer trip.
Due to a lack in planning, there were only two things I was sure of doing during our 24-hours in Metz, France: eat a tartelette aux mirabelles from Pâtisserie Claude Bourguignon and explore Saint-Stephen of Metz. Despite discovering I’m not a fan of cooked plums (try the vanilla bourbon macaron!), I loved every second of the cathedral.
With the groundbreaking of Metz Cathedral dating back to the 13th century, it took three centuries before it was finally finished in 1550. Made from the same local, yellow Jaumont stone as the rest of the Old Town, the cathedral sneaks up on you, appearing rather suddenly after turning a corner or two from the main square. This seems rather impossible after standing there in front of it. It really is as big as it looks, which is even more noticeable after walking inside. The cathedral has held the honor of being the tallest structure in the city since the Middle Ages, which isn’t too surprising since it seems one can see the spire of the Tour de la Mutte from anywhere in the city.
As impressive and beautiful as Saint-Stephen looks from the outside, its inside is what makes it famous. After walking inside, if possible, the cathedral gets even bigger. It’s hard to believe that any cathedral could be taller, let alone ten. Saint-Stephen’s ability to draw your eyes upwards is incredible; I spent half my time trying to crane my neck even further.
Known as the “Lantern of God”, Saint-Stephen is one-of-a-kind in respect to its stained glass. Cathedrals are known for being dark and cold, but not Saint-Stephen. The 69,920 sq ft of glass – the largest expanse in the world – gives the inside of the cathedral a bright and warm feeling. With works from masters of Renaissance styles, romanticism, French abstract styles, cubism, and modernism, the stained glass of Metz has something for everyone. Most impressive and unique are the contributions by Marc Chagall.