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World Heritage # 8: Amiens Cathedral

As part of a series specially devoted to French sites recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO, we invite you to discover one by one the exceptional French destinations, preserved as heritage of humanity. We continue this series with one of the sites recognized in 1981, the cathedral of Amiens.

Din Hauts-de-France, in the heart of Picardy, Notre-Dame d'Amiens cathedral is one of the most completed and largest classical Gothic churches of the XNUMXth century. "The consistency of the plan, the beauty of the three-level interior elevation and the arrangement of an extremely skilful sculpted program on the main facade and the south arm of the transept ”, just as its decorations and stained glass windows make this building a true masterpiece of medieval architecture. Historians consider that Our Lady of Amiens marked the height of Gothic architecture. Several of the innovations implemented in Amiens announced "the advent of the flamboyant style in architecture and monumental sculpture".

"Perfection in daring"

200 m000, 3 meters long and an arch height of 145 meters! The majestic building rises to the sky. It is still today the largest cathedral in France. Notre-Dame d'Amiens is twice the size of Notre-Dame de Paris. Amiens cathedral is also overlooked by the oldest wooden and lead spire in France. Erected in 1530, it inspired Viollet-le-Duc to design that of Notre-Dame de Paris. Jean Macrez is guide and author. He claims the title of "last living gargoyle" of the place. This enthusiast is particularly fond of "the unity of style, the purity of lines, the harmony of proportions" of this imposing cathedral. “Perfection in daring! "...

The history of Amiens cathedral

Notre-Dame d'Amiens cathedral was built in the 70th century in less than XNUMX years, on the ashes of a Romanesque church. Amiens was going through a particularly prosperous period. Three prime contractors thus succeeded one another on the monumental site. Robert de Luzarches was in charge of the plans, the nave and the porches of the eastern facade. Thomas de Cormont will complete the nave, the ambulatory and the radiating chapels. His son Renaud de Cormont is responsible for the superstructures of the choir and the apse. It was also he who designed the vertiginous soaring towards the sky of the highest cross ribs.

The side chapels, the spire and the two towers of the western facade will be added in the XNUMXth century. The prestigious architect Viollet-le-Duc will also leave a mark there in the XNUMXth century, on the occasion of a restoration of the Galerie des Sonneurs which brings together the two towers. He will also add statues and gargoyles, as he did in Paris.

Outstanding elements

Since the great war, the weeping angel carved on a tomb has become the most famous of the cathedral's 750 sculptures. The soldiers of the British army moved by this angel seeming to feel the same sorrow as them, sent their family postcards with his effigy and thus made known the angel. The octagonal labyrinth formed by the pavement of the nave and 234 meters long, constituted an alternative to the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. The faithful walked through it on their knees to the center, symbol of the Holy Sepulcher.

Each year, the cathedral puts on its clothes of light. More than 2 million visitors have already had the opportunity to discover the magnificent sound and light show, which has become one of the highlights of the year in Amiens. In 2019 and 2020, many events celebrating 800 years of the cathedral occurred. The closing celebrations of this anniversary will take place on November 20, 21 and 22, 2020.