Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure de Marseille. The Cathedral that challenged the church-makers-game in the 19th century.
So this is how I imagine it went down in 1852. A prominent bishop looked at the old circa 15th century Provencal-style church with its pink stones, bays, and naves, and thought "Why that's not good enough for Marseille." Then over grilled Sardines and Fennel bulbs the Bishop turns to his lover and said, "So the church is a little bland don't you think?" "Bland?" The lover replied. "Yeah, we should build something better." "Something bigger?" "Something with arches. And this is how the Marseille Cathedral came to be commissioned under Napoleon III in 1852. Built on the site of destruction it was the first cathedral to be built in France in over a century and structurally takes the form of a Latin cross-shape, similar to the ancient Roman law courts: the Basilica. Whereas it's complex network of domes resting lithely on piers, alternating stone pattern-work (polychrome), arches, and ceiling mosaics smack of Byzantine design. Why does this Cathedral resemble the structures of old Constantinople; the once great and modernly contested 'Nouveau Rome'? Perhaps because Marseille was once a major-trading hub in the Mediterranean with its networks in the 19th century stretching towards the Middle East and the Orient. Perhaps then, the Marseille Cathedral expresses the cross-cultural influence with its architecture. Or perhaps one day in his study in Paris, Léon Vaudoyer turned to his lover (because there are always lovers) and said "What if I make a church that is polychromed on the outside." To which sentiment his lover replied "Why that's innovative dear." And thus in a fit of passion, persuaded by his lovers infancy, Mr. Vaudoyer drew up the plans for the Cathedral. The unofficial "what if's" of history are the fun parts in this line of academia, indulge in them whenever possible.