Cathédrale Saint-Trophime d'Arles
The 7th century Romaneque church of St. Trophime had a long central nave 20 metres high; lower collateral aisles on either side; a transept supporting the square central bell tower; and a chevet behind the altar at the east end with a hemispherical vault. The windows are small and high up on the nave, above the level of the collateral aisles. It has been rebuilt several times, and was restored in 1870. The two saints on the inner corners flanking the door are Saint Trophime, the first bishop of Arles, and Saint Stephen, to whom the original church had been dedicated.
A Little Tour in France
"The third lion of Arles has nothing to do with the ancient world, but only with the old one. The church of Saint Trophimus, whose wonderful romanesque porch is the principal ornament of the principal place - a place otherwise distinguished by the presence of a slim and tapering obelisk in the middle, as well as by that of the hôtel de ville and the museum - the interesting church of Saint Trophimus swears a little, as the French say, with the peculiar character of Arles. It is very remarkable, but I would rather it were in another place. Arles is delightfully pagan, and Saint Trophimus, with its apostolic sculptures, is rather a false note. These sculptures are equally remarkable for their primitive vigour and for the perfect preservation in which they have come down to us. The deep recess of a round-arched porch of the 12th century is covered with quaint figures which have not lost a nose or a finger. An angular Byzantine-looking Christ sits in a diamond-shaped frame at the summit of the arch, surrounded by little angels, by great apostles, by winged beasts, by a hundred sacred symbols and grotesque ornaments. It is a dense embroidery of sculpture, black with time, but as uninjured as if it had been kept under glass. One good mark for the French Revolution! Of the interior of the church, which has a nave of the twelfth century and a choir three hundred years more recent, I chiefly remember the odd feature that the romanesque aisles are so narrow that you literally - or almost - squeeze through them. You do so with some eagerness, for your natural purpose is to pass out to the cloister. This cloister, as distinguished and as perfect as the porch, has a great deal of charm. Its four sides, which are not of the same period (the earliest and best are of the 12th century), have an elaborate arcade, supported on delicate pairs of columns, the capitals of which show an extraordinary variety of device and ornament. At the corners of the quadrangle these columns take the form of curious human figures. The whole thing is a gem of lightness and preservation and is often cited for its beauty; but - if it doesn't sound too profane - I prefer, especially at Arles, the ruins of the Roman theatre. The antique element is too precious to be mingled with anything less rare."
Arles: the Museum in A Little Tour in France, by Henry James. London, 1900.