Notre-Dame de Reims


Notre-Dame de Reims

Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims
infoboxsize = 20.8em


State Party = FRA
Type = Cultural
Criteria = i, ii, vi
ID = 601
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 1991
Session = 15th
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/601

Notre-Dame de Reims ("Our Lady of Rheims") is the cathedral of Reims, where the kings of France were once crowned. [The last "sacre" was that of Charles X, 29 May 1825.] It replaces an older church, destroyed by a fire in 1211, which was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims, in AD 496. [The original cathedral was erected on the site of the Roman baths.]

A major site for tourism in the Champagne region, it accommodated half a million visitors in 2006. [ [http://www.reims.cci.fr/pdf/tourisme/activites_touristiques.pdf Source : CCI de la Marne: activités touristiques] .]

Construction

The cathedral was completed by the end of the 13th century, with the exception of the western front. That portion was erected in the 14th century, following 13th century designs [This gives Reims an unusual unity of style.] —the nave having in the meantime been lengthened to afford room for the crowds that attended the coronations. The towers, 81 m tall (approx. 267 ft), were originally designed to rise 120 m (approximately 394 ft). The south tower holds just two great bells; one of them, named “Charlotte” by Charles, Cardinal of Lorraine in 1570, weighs more than 10,000 kg (about 11 tons).

In 1875 the [French National Assembly] voted £80,000 for repairs of the façade and balustrades. The façade is the finest portion of the building, and one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages. German shellfire during the opening engagements of the First World War burned, damaged and destroyed important parts of the cathedral. Scaffolding around the north tower caught fire, spreading the blaze to all parts of the carpentry superstructure. The lead of the roofs melted and poured through the stone gargoyles, destroying in turn the bishop's palace. Restoration work began in 1919, under the direction of Henri Deneux, a native of Reims and chief architect of the "Monuments Historiques"; the cathedral was fully reopened in 1938, thanks in part to financial support from the Rockefellers, but work has been steadily going on since.

Exterior

The three portals are laden with statues and statuettes; among European cathedrals, only Chartres has more sculpted figures. The central portal, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is surmounted by a rose window framed in an arch itself decorated with statuary, in place of the usual sculptured tympanum. The "gallery of the kings" above shows the baptism of Clovis in the centre flanked by statues of his successors.

The façades of the transepts are also decorated with sculptures. That on the North has statues of bishops of Reims, a representation of the Last Judgment and a figure of Jesus ("le Beau Dieu"), while that on the south side has a beautiful modern rose window with the prophets and apostles. Fire destroyed the roof and the spires in 1481: of the four towers that flanked the transepts, nothing remains above the height of the roof. Above the choir rises an elegant lead-covered timber belltower that is 18 m (about 59 feet) tall, reconstructed in the 15th century and in the 1920s.

Interior

The inside of the cathedral is 138.75 m (about 455 ft) long, 30 m (approx. 98 feet) wide in the nave, and 38 m (about 125 feet) high in the centre. It comprises a nave with aisles, transepts with aisles, a choir with double aisles, and an apse with ambulatory and radiating chapels. It has interesting stained glass ranging from the 13th to the 20th century. The rose window over the main portal and the gallery beneath are of rare magnificence.

The cathedral possessed fine tapestries. Of these the most important series is that presented by Robert de Lenoncourt, archbishop under François I, representing the life of the Virgin. They are now to be seen in the former bishop's palace, the Palace of Tau. The north transept contains a fine organ in a flamboyant Gothic case. The choir clock is ornamented with curious mechanical figures. Marc Chagall designed the stained glass installed in 1974 in the axis of the apse.

The treasury, kept in the Palace of Tau, includes many precious objects, among which is the "Sainte Ampoule", or holy flask, the successor of the ancient one that contained the oil with which French kings were anointed, which was broken at the French Revolution, a fragment of which the present "Ampoule" contains.

Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral, the former Abbey of Saint-Remi, and the Palace of Tau were added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.

Gallery

ee also

* List of cathedrals in France
* List of highest church naves

Notes

External links

* http://www.cathedrale-reims.com (in French)
* [http://kunsthistorie.com/galleri/index.php?album=Frankrike%2FReims&sortby=name&order=asc Photos]
* [http://jcm2044.net/PhotosHome/QTVR/ 360 degrees panoramas]


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