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“One of the great architectural experiences of Europe”
- architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner

Getting your bearings

This Grade 1 listed cathedral is built on a peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the River Wear. To our west lies a steep gorge.

The northern front of the Cathedral faces onto Palace Green. Here the full 496-foot (143 metres) length from west to east can be seen.

A thousand years of history

The Shrine of St Cuthbert was established at Durham in 995. The Norman Cathedral we see today began to be built in 1093 and was largely completed within 40 years.

 

What is Romanesque architecture?

The name means 'from Rome'. This style of architecture dominated Western Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries. It often features rounded arches and vaults.

Find out more at Durham World Heritage Site

11th and 12th century wonders

We are the only cathedral in England to retain almost all of its Norman craftsmanship. The original design and layout is also preserved.

The nave, quire and transepts are all Norman. At the west end is the 12th century late-Norman style Galilee Chapel.

 

A world-first

The nave boasts what is believed to the world’s first structural pointed arch.

Gothic and grand

The 13th century Chapel of the Nine Altars is in the Gothic style.

Soaring towers

The Western Towers date from 12th and 13th centuries.

The Central Tower - currently being restored - was built in the 15th century. It displays perpendicular Gothic detailing.

 

 

Shadows in the Cloisters

How you can help

Do you want to ensure the Cathedral's amazing architecture survives for another thousand years?

The Heritage Lottery Fund will match your donation to Foundation 2020 scheme.

More about Foundation 2020

Outside the main Cathedral building

A home to medieval monks

To the south, the Cloister was begun at the same time as the Norman Cathedral. However much of the work is from the 15th century or later. The buildings surrounding it form the most intact surviving set of medieval monastic buildings in the UK.

Inside Open Treasure

The magnificent timber roof of the 14th century Monk’s Dormitory now shelters our Open Treasure exhibition. Visitors can also experience the octagonal Great Kitchen which houses the Treasures of St Cuthbert. The medieval vaulted Undercroft is home to the Cathedral Shop and Undercroft Restaurant.

Beyond the Cloister

If you wander through the Cloister, you will find The College, the name given to our Cathedral close.

Around this quiet green are offices, the Chorister School and homes to our clergy. Many of the picturesque buildings first took shape in the Middle Ages.

A tradition carrying on today

The medieval gate house giving access to The College area is still locked every night.

 

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