Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul in Tunis, Tunisia

The mustard-yellow Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul is the largest intact building from the colonial era in Tunis, Tunisia's capital. Visible from afar, it is known for its fascinating mix of architectural styles.

The imposing Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul is the seat of the Archdiocese of Tunis, capital of Tunisia. It is located on the Place de l'Indépendence on a former Catholic cemetery dedicated to St. Anthony. This cemetery was mentioned in writing in the early 17th century and originally housed the burial places of slaves. St. Vincent de Paul himself was captured by the corsairs at that time as a young priest and sold as a slave.


Emergence within 4 years

The various architectural features of the cathedral did not emerge over the decades, as perhaps suspected. The Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul was built in only four years, from 1893 to 1897. And yet, Moorish, Gothic and neo-Byzantine characteristics can be found on the imposing place of worship - an indication that Catholics were not the only ones who influenced the construction of this cathedral. At its opening on Christmas Day in 1897, the church towers were still made of wood due to lack of funds.

Visit to the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul in Tunis

Above the massive entrance portal of the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul in Tunis, Abraham blesses Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, Tunisia - © Photoman29 / Shutterstock
© Photoman29 / Shutterstock

Meanwhile, however, the two mighty towers flanking the entrance portal are also made of solid stone and welcome visitors from afar. The mosaic on the colossal exterior above the portal depicts Jesus Christ flanked by two trumpeting angels. Above the effigy is enthroned a cross surrounded by stone ornaments. Above the arch, Abraham blesses Christians as well as Jews and Muslims with raised hands. The connection between the nave and transept is crowned by a Byzantine dome.

The windows of St. Vincent Cathedral are beautifully painted. All in red and gold, the Holy Spirit descends to earth for the Feast of Pentecost, and in green and blue, the Assumption of the Virgin has been illustrated. At the far end of the cathedral, in the apse, is depicted the Assumption of St. Vincent de Paul under the eyes of saints and martyrs of North Africa. The main altar is decorated with mosaics of alabaster and marble and is enthroned opposite an organ built in 1921, considered the most beautiful organ in North Africa.

Masses are held in French and Italian, and time and again the Cathedral of St. Vincent de Paul is also the venue for concerts and performances.