The cathedral is sited near the base of Mont Saint-Étienne, below the citadel. To the east of the cathedral is the 16th century Porte Rivotte, with two round towers, and pedestrian walkways dating to the 19th century. To the west is the Porte Noire, a Roman triumphal arch of the 2nd century with extensive sculptural decoration.
The cathedral consists of a large nave between two aisles, and dates from the 11th to the 13th century, with an 18th-century quire.
In the clock tower there is a noteworthy 19th-century astronomical clock with thousands of moving parts and several animated functions.
- William I, Count of Burgundy
- Nicholas Perrenot de Granvelle (1484—1550)
- Antoine Perrenot de Granvelle
- Louis William Valentine Dubourg
- Charles Binet
Chapter 28, "A Procession," in Stendhal's novel Le Rouge et le Noir (The Red and the Black, 1830) takes place in Besançon Cathedral and includes a description of the cathedral decorations for the Feast of Corpus Christi.
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