One of the most eye-catching monuments in Lourdes is the basilica that sits above the grotto, part of a wider sanctuary of impressive churches.
Join flocks of devoted pilgrims on a trip to the Basilica of Notre Dame de l’Immaculée-Conception. This distinctive landmark is hard to miss; a towering 19th-century church that sits above the Grotto of Massebielle, a world-famous pilgrimage destination. Visit to marvel at the architecture and to experience a moment of reflection inside the hushed interior.
In 1858, St. Bernadette famously had her first vision of the Virgin Mary, who revealed the location of a spring to her. Stand in a church that was built only 13 years later on the site of this miraculous apparition. Newer features of the church, such as the smaller spires, have been added over the years.
Stand in the square next to the church and look upwards. The church is built in the neo-Gothic style and is dominated by a 230-foot (70-meter) spire. Look for images of Pope Pius X on a golden background and listen for the sound of an hourly bell playing Ave Maria.
Step inside the building to join pilgrims lighting candles, praying and admiring the architecture. Wander through the nave to find a stained-glass window depicting the birth and life of the Virgin Mary. Further images depict Pope Pius X, who proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception that gives the cathedral its name.
Stop by the other churches that make up the Sanctuary of Notre Dame de Lourdes. This complex of religious sites also includes the Byzantine-styled Rosary Basilica and the underground Basilica of St. Pius X. Below the sanctuary space is the grotto where the Virgin Mary appeared, as well as the baths that are said to have healing waters.
The Basilica of Notre Dame de l’Immaculée-Conception is located to the west of the town. Walk here in about 20 minutes from the main train station in Lourdes. The church is open daily and is particularly busy during feast days and other religious celebrations. Come in February to take part in a ceremony commemorating the first apparition.