France: the masterpieces of Gothic
France : les chefs-d’œuvre du gothique
Born in northern France before spreading across Europe, Gothic, flamboyant, radiant or late, dress the most beautiful cathedrals and scored architecture both religious and civil.
1. Basilica of Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint-Denis)
The reconstruction of the royal abbey of Saint-Denis , conducted from 1122 by Abbot Suger, was the founding act of the Gothic art , then spread throughout Europe. The new basilica was the testing ground for new architectural techniques that were going to school, such as vaults on intersecting ribs or roses and other large windows, which falls this colored light that bathes the building. In these early innovations were added in other during reconstructionXIIIth century, which, among other things, extends the nave and transept, added flying buttresses and multiplied the berries to remove the walls.
2. Notre Dame Cathedral in Laon (Aisne)
Wherever one comes in Picardy, there are by far its massive silhouette and five rounds (he was expected in September) that make it so special. built inXIIth century (in less than 50 years) at the top of the «mountain» of Laon, it is one of the very earliest Gothic buildings in France and influenced the construction of Notre-Dame de Paris , Reims, Chartres, Dijon or Lausanne. Observe the beautiful rose window above the organ: the staging and the expression of the characters is typical of this style » Early Gothic ,» which gradually freed of Romanesque art.
In August, at 22:30, a sound and light show to see family runs the front of the cathedral (www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com).
3. Holy Chapel (Paris)
Jewel of Gothic radiant, the Sainte-Chapelle was built in record time (1241-1248) in the Palais de la Cité , on the order of Saint Louis to house the relics of Christ. New techniques, including the use of hidden iron in masonry, allowed to make a stone vessel and glass of aerial finesse. His lower chapel, which served as parish keeps a very simple basilica. Its high chapel, which served as a shrine and chapel for the king, is s omptueusement decorated with sculptures and huge windows 15 from the middle ofXIIIth century (partly restored inXIXth century), as well as a rose of Gothic .
Visit the Sainte-Chapelle in sunny weather: it’s so light a fabulous setting. To observe the scenes of the windows of the upper chapel, grab binoculars.
4. Rouen Courthouse (Seine-Maritime)
Real open air museum of the Gothic , the center of Rouen is not limited to religious expressions of this architecture: the current courthouse , built in a style that combines Gothic and Renaissance , welcomed the commodity exchange and Exchequer became Normandy parliament earlyXVIth century. The street-aux-Jews can appreciate the courtyard of the building, pinnacles and balustrades Renaissance of the central body, and the canted turret jutting under the gaze of gargoyles. The shrapnel left purposely on the west and north facades reflect the 1944 bombing had damaged the building.
Guided tour on Tuesday at 15h, an amazing underground Jewish monument XIIth century, which is still unknown function (with reservation 02 32 08 32 40).
5. Notre Dame Cathedral in Coutances (Manche)
This grand cathedral is recognizable by its wide front bristling with towers crowned with spiers, high of 76 m. Construction,XIIIth century, the Gothic structure clad on the Romanesque cathedralXIth century, which was not demolished, lasted only 70 years, which explains the uniformity of style. Perched 51 meters above the nave is a majestic lantern tower octagonal.
A guided tour (1 hour 30) provides access to the upper parts; one can admire the stained glass closer.
6. Palais des Papes in Avignon (Vaucluse)
It is the Gothic building the largest in the world and yet it does not spontaneously comes to mind when mentioning this style, often likened to cathedrals. The Papal Palace proudly dominates the Rhone its crenellated towers. Its architectural nobility, its massive walls and ocher makes a unique masterpiece . Built in 1335 by the popes settled in Avignon, it is the result of the overlapping of two buildings: the old palace of Benedict XII at the citadel of appearance, and the new palace of Clement VI, more glitzy, who conceals beautiful frescoes of the Sienese Matteo Giovanetti.
If you can, give yourself the fascinating guided tour «Secret Palace» (www.palais-des-papes.com).
7. Jacques-Heart Palace, Bourges (Cher)
Built in Bourges XVth century, the palace is a superb example of Gothic style . Built for the native son, Jacques Heart, it illustrates the original personality of the «friend of popes and princes,» which was also the great financier of King Charles VII. It is characterized by the elegance and refinement of its facade (the one facing the street), beautifully decorated with a multitude of characters carved evoking religious themes and this merchant voyages. The beautiful arrangement of rooms inside showing great attention to comfort and hygiene.
Jacques Heart will finally used once his palace to celebrate the appointment of his son John as Archbishop of Bourges.
8. Basilica of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port (Meurthe-et-Moselle)
built in XVth century to house a relic of Saint Nicolas (patron saint of Lorraine), this masterpiece of the Gothic style impresses immediately with its exceptional lighting , mainly because of the height of the bays and numerous windows. The white stone walls accentuates the brightness of the building. Its monumental façade with two towers also imposes, and the magnificent organ of neo-Gothic style . The basilica was restored in the 1980s, thanks to the legacy of Camille Croué-Friedman, portoise of origin, emigrated to the United States .
From Nancy, take the D400 departmental to reach the town of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, 13km. From the A33 motorway towards Strasbourg / Colmar / Luneville, take exit 4 (Saint-Nicolas-de-Port / Varangéville).
9. St Theobald’s Church, Thann (Haut-Rhin)
At Thann, 78 m tower and insolent overflowing with ornaments and statuary leave little doubt: the Saint-Thiébaut collegiate church was built under the influence of » French style «, something rare in the Rhine region. The pilgrims were welcomed by the eardrums of the portal, a real religious cartoon ofXIVth century recounting the life of the Virgin, the Nativity, the visit of the Magi and the passion of Christ with for extras, 500 devilishly expressive stone figures. Do not miss inside the sublime stalls on which, fairyland forces, we find even a gnome glasses!
West of Mulhouse, follow the course of the Thur. Arrived in Thann, take a table in front of a vintage vineyards of Rangen (www.ot-thann.fr).
10. Church of the Jacobins, Toulouse (Haute-Garonne)
With its 72 m long, 20 m wide and 28 m high, the Jacobins church is one of the most remarkable monuments of the Southern Gothic . Inside, a row of eight columns of 22 meters high separates the two naves. Among them is one of the attractions of the place: the famous » palm » (1275-1292), the main pillar. The construction of this church, under the aegis of the Dominicans, began in 1229 and ended in 1385. It has all the elements of a convent complex and also houses the remains of St. Thomas Aquinas.
A horizontal circular mirror surrounds the palm at its foot: it’s fun to watch the reflection of it in the mirror. vertigo guaranteed!
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