Lourdes Attractions Guide

The major tourist attraction of Lourdes is, of course, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes, more commonly known as the Domain, the center of pilgrimage activity in the city. The Domain is where the Grotte de Massabielle is located; this grotto is where the Virgin appeared to St. Bernadette. The exact spot is marked by a niche with a sculpture of the Blessed Virgin by the Lyons sculptor Fabisch, which was based on descriptions St. Bernadette provided. Water from a spring located at the Grotto is believed to have miraculous healing powers, and the Church has recorded many cases of cures attributed to Lourdes water. Visitors can also choose to immerse themselves in Lourdes water at the Baths. The Sanctuary is also home to many churches, including the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Rosary Basilica, the Underground Basilica and the Church of St. Bernadette, the most recent of the churches to be consecrated (1988). Visitors wishing to explore the rich history of Lourdes can visit the town’s museums. The Lourdes Museum recreates the history of Lourdes in 1898 at the time of the apparitions. The Wax Museum features 18 scenes and more than 100 characters reenacting the story of Christ and the life of St. Bernadette. The Gemmail Museum features a collection of sacred art done using a technique similar to that used in non-leaded stained glass. And, the Pyrenean Museum recreates the culture of the Pyrenees in eighteen rooms; attractions include a typical Béarnaise kitchen and Bigourdane room, along with exhibits of traditional costumes and scale models of typical houses. Tourists can also discover the area’s many castles. The most prominent is the Mauvezin Castle, a medieval fortress built between the 11th and 14th centuries. The Castle now hosts an archaeological museum, a gun room and exhibits various instruments of warfare in its courtyard. The National Museum of the Château de Pau was once a royal palace occupied by heirs to the crown of Navarra; currently it houses one of the finest collections of Flanders and Gobelins tapestries from the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, as well as twelve galleries and exhibition rooms featuring historic paintings and sculptures. Finally, there are many natural attractions that the tourist must not miss. The Pyrenees National Park is a place for visitors to observe the local flora and fauna, including lizards, birds of prey and marmots. Sightseers can drive through major Pyrenean passes such as the Soulor Pass, which links the Ferrières valley to the vallée d’Azun; the Aspin Pass, which joins the Aure Valley and the Campan Valley and the Peyresourde Pass, connecting the Louron and Luchon valleys.