This is the third in the series of the great gothic cathédrales de France. The first in the series was Chartres, followed by Nôtre-Dame-de-Paris.
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The western façade and center portal of Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens during a light and sound show. Originally, the statuary on these gothic cathedrals was painted. This laser light show gives us an idea of how that looked.
La cathédrale Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens
, built between 1220 and 1269, is the tallest complete cathedral in France. Amiens is located north of Paris in the heart of Picardie
region in the département de Somme
represents the pinnacle of Gothic engineering, and was the last of the extremely tall buildings. The interior height of the nave is 46 metres, 143 feet, high. La cathédrale
is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its triforium (three-tier) interior elevation and the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal facade and in the south transept. Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens
, in addition to being the tallest of les cathédrales
is also the largest.
The triforium plan of the walls in seen on the left in this photo.
The enormous size of la cathédrale
is brought home to those who have visited Nôtre-Dame-de-Paris
and learn that Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens
is twice the size of Nôtre-Dame-de-Paris
! The building area is 7,700 m2, 25,262 square feet. The interior length is 133.50 metres, 438 feet. The width of nave is 14.6 metres, 48 feet; and the width of transept is 29.30 metres, 96 feet with a length of 62 metres, 203 feet.
One gets a sense of the height of Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens in this photo. The three-tiered plan of the walls is very clear here.Architectural rendering of the triforium plan of the walls.
A christian church has existed in Amiens since the IV ème siecle
. The first cathédrale
was built in 850. A replacement structure was begun in 1037 and consecrated in 1057. This cathédrale
was notable as it was the church used for the wedding of King Phillipe II and Ingueburge. This romanesque structure was destroyed by fire in 1218. The current église
was begun in 1220.
Detail, "The Last Judgement"
In 1218, it is likely that few saw the burning of the 1152 cathédrale
as a good thing. But in a historical context, the timing couldn't have been better. The discoveries and ideals of gothic architecture were sweeping across Europe just as the people of Amiens needed to build a wonderful new structure. The interior features vaults which are ribbed, allowing them to soar to then-unprecedented heights while allowing more light to pour through the high windows. The external double row of flying buttresses expose the skeleton of the building, while providing additional space for pinnacles, and other ornamentation. From both inside and outside, everything is designed to soar -- to reach for higher goals, and bring the viewer and his religious experience closer to God. At the time of its completion, this was the tallest church in France.
Exquisitely carved statuary is a hallmark of Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens
is a textbook example of the gothic style. Shafts of stone appear deceptively delicate as they stack upon one another through the arcade, triforium, and clerestory. The cathedral has a main nave flanked on either side by an arcade, which supports the triforium and eventually the magnificent stained glass windows of the clerestory. As space converges at the top of each bay, an oculus window fills the gap and provides even more light and beauty.
In the XII ème siecle
, it was Abbot Suger, of basilique-de-Saint-Denis
just northeast of Paris, who conceived of the notion of the flying buttresses which allowed church builders to increase the height of the walls from what had been possible in the older Romanesque architecture. Suger's flying buttresses allowed the architects to open the walls with glass and flood the church with light. Suger's ideal is expressed that:
The church would have "the most radiant windows"
to "illuminate men's minds so that they may travel through apprehension of God's light."
Certainly Suger's ideal was realized at Amiens.
The west rose over the center portal of Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens.
Many consider Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens
to be the most beautiful of the great gothic cathédrales
of France, even more so than Chartres. It is difficult to argue with this assessment.
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, Amiens has a labyrinth on the floor. A worshiper may walk this labyrinth, offering a prayer at each turn. A labyrinth
walk can be a sublime meditative experience.
Details of the labyrinth at Amiens. The lower image is the inscription in the labyrinth's center.
The labyrinth from above. The photo gives more of the soaring feeling one gets at la cathédrale d'Amiens.
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Everything about la cathédrale Nôtre-Dame-d'Amiens soars!The flying buttresses soar!
The nave soars over the congregation!
The vault soars at the cross of the nave and the transept!
The triforium soars above the choir!
....and la cathédrale soars above the town!
A Gothic Sermon: Making a Contract with the Mother of God, Saint Mary of Amiens
High Gothic: The Classic Cathedrals of Chartres, Reims, Amiens (image not available)
0691003726:Product Link on Barnes & Noble.com.