Bourges, the former Roman city of Avaricum, was one of the first Christian communities of Gaul. The cathedral is dedicated to St Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and was built between the end of the 12th and end of the 13th centuries on a site which had been a place of Christian worship since the 3rd century. It is remarkable for its proportions and harmonious design, making it one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art. The tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass windows are particularly striking. Besides the beauty of its architecture, it bears witness to the power of Christianity in mediaeval France.
Criterion (i): Bourges cathedral is of considerable importance in the development of Gothic architecture and is a symbol of the power of Christianity in mediaeval France. However, its chief qualities are its striking beauty arising from the masterly management of space and its harmonious proportions, combined with ornamentation of the highest quality.
Criterion (iv): Although Bourges cathedral is at the margins of French Gothic architecture as represented by Saint-Denis, Paris, Chartres or Amiens, it upholds the architectural values of this style of cathedral, with its outstanding harmonious design and masterly use of space and light. It had a strong influence on other European cathedrals, such as Le Mans, Coutances and Toledo.