Skip to main content

Lanterne des Morts (Lantern of the dead), Sarlat-la-Caneda

Small stone tower situated behind the Cathedrale Sainte-Marie

featured in Sights & sites

The Lanternes des Morts (Lanterns of the dead) are small towers mainly found in the central and western parts of France. Thought to indicate the position of a cemetary.

This is a particularly fine example and well-preserved building that dates back to the 12th-century. The origin and use of such lanterns are controversial. Some of those lanterns are said to be "lanterns of the Moors" instead of "lanterns of the Dead". The illiteracy of most of the population in the past can easily explain this as "the Moors" (les Maures) and "the dead" (les morts) sounds very similar.

Some of the lanterns in France do not indicate any cemetery and their architecture has strong oriental influences. The origin of the lantern in Sarlat is linked with the abbot Bernard of Clairvaux, who played a major role in the Second Crusade. It is said to have been built after a visit of the abbot in the city, in 1147, possibly by the Knights Templar.

Worth knowing

You have a great views over the rooftops of Sarlat from this vantage point behind the cathedral.

Watch out for

The ground here can be uneven so care should be taken when exploring this part of the town.

Visitor comments

  • "The Lanterne des Morts is a fascinating 12th-century structure situated adjacent to St Sacerdos Cathedral in Sarlat. Its origins are lost in the mists of time - possibly connected with the nearby medieval cemetery (Morts) or with the invading Saracens (Moors)." - Trip Advisor
  • "Visited here whilst walking around Sarlat. The significance of it explained later by a guide. Very interesting and lovely views of the city around this part too." - Trip Advisor
  • "In a small garden behind the St. Sacerdos Cathedral stands a circular stone tower which reminds a huge rocket - the Lantern of the Dead. This is probably the most ancient building in Sarlat and dates from 1180. This building is also named St. Bernard tower after Bernard de Clairvaux who-the legend has it-miraculously cured the sick people by blessing the bread in Sarlat." - Trip Advisor


Map of the surrounding area