Librarians Portal, Rouen Cathedral © French Moments
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Last Updated: 15 April 2020


The Librarians Portal (Portail des Libraires) is situated in the North end of the transept of Rouen Cathedral. Once the private access for the canon priests to the cathedral, the portal is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture in Normandy.

Portail des Libraires in Rouen Cathedral

Portail des libraires (Librarians portal) and North Transept of Rouen Cathedral © French Moments
North Transept of Rouen Cathedral © French Moments

The North end of the transept bears a near resemblance to the Calende Portal (South Transept).

Its name refers to the transcribers and calligraphists whose shops once occupied the courtyard.

This was the private access for the canon priests who had to cross the courtyard to reach the rue Saint-Romain through a fortified gate. The gateway consists of two lofty pointed arches of equal height, crowned by a row of smaller arcades.

Cour des Libraires, Librarians portal © French Moments
Cour des Libraires © French Moments

Construction of the Librarians Portal (Portail des Libraires) started in 1278.

On both sides of the portal are quatrefoils comprising of 200 medallions in well preserved featuring an endless variety of grotesques, fanciful monsters, animals, mermaids, tritons, harpies, woodmen, satyrs…

Quatrefoils, North Transept of Rouen Cathedral © French Moments
Quatrefoils © French Moments

The statues which stood on each side of the portals have been destroyed and only their pedestals remain.

The tympanum reveals the Last Judgement on the two first register. The third register was supposed to receive a Christ in glory but was unfortunately never built.


Librarians Portal, Rouen Cathedral © French Moments
Tympanum © French Moments

The trumeau holds a statue of Saint-Romain knocking down the infamous dragon of Rouen (la Gargouille).

Saint-Romain © French Moments
Saint-Romain © French Moments

The pediment above the portal is crocketed and filled with tracery

Above the portal is a magnificent rose window.

Rose Window of North Transept © French Moments
Rose Window of North Transept © French Moments

The gable of the transept is crocketed and holds a finial.

The Librarians Portal is flanked by two square towers similar to those of the South Transept.

The two buttresses flanking the portal are richly ornamented and terminate in pinnacles.

My book recommendation!

Its name? Simply:

Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting by Rolf Toman, Publisher: Ullmann

My copy of the book "Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting"
My copy of the book “Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting”

This book has been for me a great resource that helped me better understand the Gothic movement in art from the 12th century to the Renaissance. An architectural style that first originated from France and spread all over Europe.

Over 500 pages it focuses on the development of Gothic architecture with many illustrations and photographs, but not only. I’ve also found interesting the in-depth discussion of the most diverse art forms, including painting, sculpture, metalwork and even book illumination! It also includes specific coverage of the Cathars’ Heresy and the Papal Palace in Avignon. And, of course, it mentions the cathedral of Notre-Dame de Rouen!

This is definitely the book I recommend if – like me – you love everything about Gothic such as churches, gargoyles, stained glass, flying buttresses and so much more.

Order it online!

Find out more about Rouen Cathedral.

For more information, visit the Rouen Tourist Board website.

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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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