It is the seat of the Bishopric of Rodez.
The closed west front once formed part of the city wall of Rodez.
Rodez was Christianized in the 4th-5th century AD, and the first mention of a cathedral dates from around 516. This structure was rebuilt c. 1000; almost nothing remains of it after the decision to rebuild it from scratch in 1276.
The works were halted for many years by the Black Death and the Hundred Years War, and were restarted only in the early 15th century with the completion of the choir and its vault, as well as the transept and of the first sectors of the nave. After the fire of 1510, bishop François d'Estaing had it rebuilt in 1513-1526 under the direction of Antoine Salvan with a new majestic bell tower. The cathedral was completed around 1531.
In 1792–98, Pierre Méchain and Jean-Baptiste Delambre used Rodez Cathedral as the central surveying point for their calculation of the circumference of the earth. This was used in the definition of the metre (see History of the metre).
Despite the long construction process, the cathedral is characterized by a remarkable unity of style, which is mostly the Gothic one imported by architect Jean Deschamps into the MIDI from northern France.
The cathedral is constructed of red sandstone. It has a severe façade, flanked by two sturdy towers, which betray its defensive function: the west front once formed part of the city walls of Rodez. The belltower, standing at 87 m, is surmounted by a lantern carrying the statue of the Virgin with a choir of four angels.
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