The Lanterne des Morts in Sarlat is one of the most unusual architectural structures in the region. Situated just off the Rue Montaigne, at the top of the churchyard behind Cathédrale St Sacerdos, this cylindrical structure with a conical roof is pierced by four narrow windows.
The origins of the Lanterne are uncertain. Some say it was built to commemorate the visit of St Bernard in 1147. On the other hand, others say the light was simply to show the position of the cemetery at night. Another theory is that it is actually a ‘Lantern of the Moors’ given its association with St. Bernard and the Second Crusade. In French Lanterne des Morts and Lanterne des Maures are homophones as they have the same pronunciation.
Some would say it’s a little spooky but go and see for yourself and make up your own mind. There is no access to the interior so you’ll just have to use your imagination but look out for the sculpture depicting the horse and two crosses favoured by the Knight Templar.