The Reims Cathedral (France) is not just a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. In addition to the value of the artifact, this building carries a different, more important meaning. Once in it, all the monarchs of France accepted the coronation. It contained mira (aromatic oil), according to legend, sent by God Himself from heaven for baptism and anointing on the kingdom of Clovis. And although France has long been a republic, the cathedral is a symbol of the greatness of the country and its glorious past. For connoisseurs of medieval architecture, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims is also of considerable value. Unlike Notre-Dame de Paris, which mixed different styles, the cathedral in Reims is an excellent example of high Gothic. Despite the fact that the building was erected by a whole galaxy of architects replacing each other, all the parts in it form an organic whole. Let's get acquainted with this monument of medieval architecture, included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Prototype of the Reims Cathedral
On the site of the building at the time of the conquest of Rome by Gaul, there were terms. The harsh nature of Champagne forced the legionaries to build in Rheims an interesting Forum: unlike other cities, it was covered, which allowed citizens to gather under the protection of the walls from rain and cold. When Christianity became the state religion, the first cathedral was built on the site of the term. The Reims bishop, the blessed Nikasi, consecrated him in honor of the Mother of God. At the end of the fifth century, in 498, the leader of the Franks, Clovis, accepted in this cathedral the baptism from the hands of Remigia. Later, this transition from paganism to Christianity became associated with coronation. After all, Clovis I named the monarch of France. In 816, Louis the Pious also chose Reims the place of coronation. He led the entire sacred Roman Empire. To back up their claims to power by the will of God, the royal propaganda launched the legend of the Holy Glassess. Say, at the time of the baptism of Clovis, a pigeon descended from heaven, carrying a vial of peace in its beak.
The present cathedral of Rheims: history
The golden legend of the Glassess, as well as another miracle committed by Remigius (he, like Christ in Cana of Galilee, turned water into wine), strengthened the political power and authority of the Reich archbishops. The Roman church already then applied for an investment. To become a legitimate ruler, it was necessary to undergo a coronation in this cathedral. The building was repeatedly expanded and rebuilt. By the beginning of the XIII century it was a wonderful example of Romanesque architecture. But in 1210 there was a fire, which almost completely destroyed the cathedral. Reims Archbishop Aubry de Umber ordered to dismantle the ruins and a year later, on May 6, 1211, laid the first stone in the construction of a new building. Over the cathedral, also dedicated to the Mother of God, the architects worked for 64 years. He was erected, as they say, from scratch. That is, Romanesque buildings were completely dismantled and did not enter the complex.
Considering the importance of the cathedral for the French Crown, the best architects of that time were invited to erect it. The plan of the building was developed by the first architect - Jean d'Orbe. In his design, it should be a three-nave basilica, intersected by a transept. The temple should be decorated with seven turrets with pointed spiers. And at this point the design of the first architect was never implemented. Now the temple is crowned with only two towers, the upper tiers of which were completed in 1427. But they were not covered with sharp-angled tents. The rest of the main architects "with great care and diligence" (as the chronicler assures us) continued the work of Jean d'Orbe. In 1231 he was succeeded by Jean le-Lou, and in 1247 by Gaucher of Reims. Great contribution to the construction was made by Bernard of Soissons, who owns the idea of a huge outlet on the western facade. Two towers and the Gallery of the Kings were created at the beginning of the fourteenth century by Robert de Coucy. Despite the long construction and creative ambitions of eminent architects, the style of the Reims Cathedral remained holistic. Only the western facade can be classified as "flaming Gothic". But he does not violate the stone symphony. After all, the general style of the cathedral is classical Gothic.
The length of the building is 140 meters, and the width is almost 30 meters. Thus, this is the largest sacral structure of France, sustained in the Gothic style. However, the massiveness of the building is invisible because of the many pointed openwork arches, pyramidal spiers, steep pediments. From a distance it seems that the temple is soaring into the sky. One of the two towers serves as a bell tower. The Gothic cathedral in Reims, like other temples of this style in Strasbourg, Chartres or Cologne, decorated many sculptures. Most of them, alas, lost - the Great French Revolution and especially the First World War were harsh to the sacral buildings of Champagne. However, what is left can be considered for hours. The most famous sculpture, which became the hallmark of not only the cathedral, but the whole city of Reims, is the "Smiling Angel". It is worth paying attention to the figure of Atlanta, who inspired V. Hugo to create the image of Quasimodo. The portals of the temple are decorated with scenes of the coronation of Our Lady, the Passion of Christ and the Last Judgment. The Kings Gallery is a series of 56 giant statues.
The Greek moment of Gothic sculpture
What experts are advised to pay attention to is the composition of the meeting between Mary and Elizabeth. This relief is located to the right of the main entrance. Two female figures are so close to the canons of Ancient Greece that this does not cease to amaze art critics. Unfortunately, the name of the brilliant sculptor, who took part in the construction of the temple around 1220, did not survive. But his genius is felt in other statues and bas-reliefs. The cathedral in Reims is decorated with amazing stained-glass windows and classic roses for Gothic. Particular attention should be paid to the window of the northern facade, which tells of the creation of the world.
Importance for France
The Reims Cathedral has repeatedly become the arena of the most important events for the fate of the country. Thus, in 1429, with the active participation of the Orleans maiden Jeanne d'Arc, the coronation of Charles VII took place. This event was a turning point in the Hundred Years War. In the 16th century, the Archbishop of Rheims received the Slavonic Gospel in an unknown way. In the Cyrillic manuscript, as in mysterious letters, all the French kings swore allegiance for a long time. The last anointing ceremony for the kingdom took place on May 29, 1825. But the restoration period did not last long, and soon Charles X left the political arena.
Cathedral and time
Despite the fact that the temple of the XIII-XIV centuries looked as it is now in the photo, the Reims cathedral is to some extent a "novelty". During the First World War, the famous battle for Marne turned the city into the very center of the fighting. The cathedral as a result of German bombing was destroyed almost completely. Remains or fragments of the original sculptures were transferred to the Episcopal Palace nearby (Palais Du Tau). And over the cathedral began a long restoration work. They ended only in 1938. It was possible to restore the stained-glass windows (with the help of the sketches of Marc Chagall) only in 1974.