Amiens Cathedral located in Amiens, only 100 kilometers north of Paris is the tallest complete cathedral in France, with the greatest interior volume (200,000 m³). Along with the cathedrals of Chartres and Reims, Amiens is a member of the illustrious triad of “High Gothic” or “Classical” French cathedrals built in the 13th century. Amiens Cathedral was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 for the beauty and harmony of its art and architecture.
Amiens Cathedral was built in 1152 in Romanesque style and was destroyed by fire in 1218. In the 13th century, motivated by the faith of their inhabitants, cities competed to build the most magnificent religious buildings. Reconstruction was initiated by Bishop Evrard de Fouilly in 1220 and the nave was completed around 1245. Reconstruction of the choir started began around 1238 and completed before 1269, and the most of this part of the building, including the transept, was completed in 1288. The Amiens labyrinth was installed in 1288 by the architect Renaud de Cormont and bears an inscription naming the architects of the cathedral. From 1292 to 1375, the cathedral was enriched by a series of chapels built between the buttresses of the side aisles. The style of the seven radiating chapels facing the double ambulatory of the choir became a model for other cathedrals .The south tower was constructed about 1366 and the north tower about 1406.
The cathedral contains the alleged head of John the Baptist, a relic brought from Constantinople by Wallon de Sarton as he was returning from the Fourth Crusade. Thanks to the experience gained from other building sites and the speed at which it was constructed, Amiens Cathedral has a very rare uniform style. The height of the ceiling is about 42.3 m and the width of the nave is about 14.6 m.
Amiens Cathedral Exterior
The west front of the Amiens Cathedral , built between 1220–1236 , shows an unusual degree of artistic unity. Its lower tier is capped with the gallery of 22 over lifesize kings, which stretches across the entire façade. Above the rose window there is an open arcade, the galerie des sonneurs.
The Western portals of the cathedral are justly famous for their elaborate sculpture, featuring a gallery of locally-important saints and large eschatological scenes. Statues of saints in the portal of the cathedral have been identified as including the locally venerated Saints Victoricus and Gentian, Saint Domitius, Saint Ulphia, and Saint Fermin. In the book Mr Standfast, John Buchan describe the cathedral as being “the noblest church that the hand of man ever built for God.” The southern portal is remarkable for a figure of the Virgin and other statuary.
During the process of laser cleaning in the 1990s, it was discovered that the western façade of the cathedral was originally painted in multiple colours. The magical effect can best be best appreciated by direct viewing, accompanied by music.
In contrast to the elaborately decorated exterior, the interior of Amiens Cathedral has an incredible beauty in simplicity. The floor is tiled in striking black-and-white geometric patterns that echo the labyrinth in the center of the nave. The Gothic design can be observed in the triforium of the choir, which was glazed with stained glass.
Besides its beautiful 12th-century sculptural decor, the cathedral houses two bronze tombs, which are extremely rare testimonies to 13th-century marvel. The tombs of Geoffroy d’Eu and especially that of Edward de Foutilloy, the bishop who in 1220 undertook the reconstruction of Amiens Cathedral , are to be found here. Among other 14th-century works, that of the pier of Cardinal de la Grange with the statues of Andre Beaunevau is especially notable.