Notre-Dame de Reims
The Gothic style emerged in the architecture of France in the XII century, and today the country has preserved so many monuments of this style, awesome and unique: each is in its own way, ranging from small chapels to huge, majestic and awe inducing Cathedral.
The most significant works of the Gothic era – the masterpieces of this style in France, includes three of the Cathedral in Chartres, Amiens and Reims.
Reims is the largest city in the champagne – the world-famous French province, and is situated on the plain, on the river vel. The city is surrounded by mountains and vineyards, and its population today is not too great – only about 200 thousand people.
However, Reims is the cradle of the whole of France, and one of the first Christian cities in the country.
At the end of V century of our era, in 496 year there were baptized and accepted Christianity, the first king of the Franks – Clovis I of the Merovingian dynasty, came to the throne 15-year-old boys. He is considered the founder of the Kingdom of the Franks and his first official monarch (though the kings of the francs were to him).
The baptism of king Clovis, which has become fateful for the whole of France, took place in Reims Cathedral, built at the same time, in the fifth century, and thereafter, until 1825, were crowned by the French monarchs.
For our compatriots it is interesting that in atomobile in the XII century was crowned the famous Anna – she was the first woman to be awarded this honor. All subsequent French kings of different eras are her direct descendants.
Still in the Reims Cathedral houses one of the greatest relics of France – a massive gold Cup for the coronation ceremonies, Dating from the thirteenth century. During the coronation of her communion all French kings, and the inscription on the Cup says that it expects kidnapped terrible.
Reims Cathedral – Notre-Dame de Reims . like many great cathedrals were built over many centuries, and not once.
The first Cathedral was built in the year 401. In the IX century it was decided to build a new building because the old one fell into disrepair and collapsed. The Cathedral was built between 817 852 a year; then rebuilt and altered – again, like many Gothic cathedrals, however, in 1210, was completely burnt in a huge fire then has burned more than half of Reims.
However, a year later, the Church began to revive, and was partly built by the early 40-ies of the XIII century, but then again, construction has stalled – perhaps due to lack of funds.
So the longitudinal part of the Cathedral with three naves, and the Western facade is the most beautiful of all, were built only to 1311, while the Northern tower to 1427. As a result, the third phase of construction and a great Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims . we can see today.
About the Church say that it competes with the great Notre Dame de Paris. sung by Victor Hugo, however, even if you just look, you can see that the Reims Cathedral is more beautiful and graceful as his famous brother. Of course, there are a lot of different architectural layers, but it does not spoil the building: for example, the tower of the Cathedral completed in the XV century, but they are wonderfully and harmoniously combined with all the building, massive and Grand. Although towers strong and high, they both seem easy and simple, especially against the sky above the Cathedral.
The Cathedral in Reims is very high relative to the surrounding buildings: height of 80 m and length – 150. When the Cathedral are clouds, it seems that he goes too.
The different stages of construction are very visible in the Cathedral: at different times it was headed by different masters, and each contributed something of their own. The first architect of Reims Cathedral is considered to be Jean d’ Orba – he began the construction of the choir. After his work was continued by Jean Le Loup; he had finished the chorus.
This part of the Cathedral is characterized by a severity and simplicity, massiveness and majestic austerity, sharply distinguishing it from other architectural parts – for example, the Western façade, decorated with whimsical stone carvings from the bottom to the top.
Jean d’ Orba, projecting facades of the North and South transepts, still used Romanesque semicircular arches relating to the simplest expression of these elements. Arches so familiar to us in works of Gothic architecture, appeared much later. In General, in the composition of the Cathedral is observed in early Gothic style prevalent at the time.
The West front is renowned for its exquisite beauty, was begun by Jean Le Loup, but was issued only in the middle of the XIII century, when architect Gaucher of Reims, created a rich sculptural composition. Portals have been deepened, the location of the sculptures changed, and the entrance was decorated with delicate tambourines, still attracts attention with its beauty. All the lower part of the facade was richly and magnificently decorated.
Until about 1290, the construction of the Western facade was continued by architect Bernard Seasonski: he focused on the creation of great Gothic roses, located in the second tier – it is distinguished by refinement of lines. The proportions of Windows and rods he made more elongated, so that they began to seem more fragile and light: that’s why the whole building seems light and fixed in height.
In General, if we talk about the architecture of Notre-Dame de Reims in General, it is characterized by a pronounced verticality: all elements and shapes are extended, and many decorative details and sculptures are torn up, as if punching a horizontal line. Therefore, the Cathedral, with their Grand size, it doesn’t seem massive or overwhelming.
The gallery of kings, distinguished by the decorative and rich in decoration, reinforces the impression of luxury, which produces a facade. The appearance of the facade is complemented by a tower with elongated Windows, characterized by fragility of the proportions.
The Cathedral is surrounded by numerous buttresses: vertical structures that increase the load-bearing walls. The inside of the Cathedral is well lit: light comes through the large Windows of the nave, and through the Windows the walls of the altar.
The main attraction of the facade is the sculptural frieze is a Gothic tradition.
Among the 500 figures decorating gallery, there are kings and knights, bishops and saints, masters of various crafts and even the devil himself. Most of these figures is of the XIII century, and on the portals of the Western façade one can see scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.
In Reims Cathedral several thousand sculptures, and the most famous are the statue of the virgin Mary, Smiling angel, the portraits of French kings. Attract attention and amazing figures, fantastic animals, and statues of saints.
Not accidentally it is often possible to hear that the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims called the realm of sculpture. The angels on the flying buttresses of the Cathedral as if going to fly, and kings, standing in a row up there in the gallery, day and night guarding the majestic building.
Unfortunately, Notre Dame de Reims is quite often suffered from wars and destruction: in the XVI century it was destroyed by the Huguenots; in the end of XVIII century, during the French revolution, he also was seriously injured; during the First world war he was subjected to attacks of the German troops and bombed – then he literally lay in ruins.
After the war the Rockefeller Foundation has allocated funds for the reconstruction of Reims Cathedral, and it was completed before the next war – the Second world war, during which the Cathedral suffered also. However, the document ending the war between France and Germany was signed in Reims Cathedral, 7 may 1945.
I must say that French architects, builders, craftsmen and workers have made tremendous efforts to return the Cathedral to its unique appearance and to its former glory. The reliefs were restored Western facade; many of the stained glass Windows had to be created anew, and their fragments have been preserved in the North aisle and the choir.
The restoration of the Reims Cathedral was completed only at the end of the XX century – in 1996. Today, the Cathedral amazes with its harmony and grandeur at the same time, remains a beautiful and unique creation of French Gothic architecture, as a model for many cathedrals and churches in other countries of Europe.
Currently we, fortunately, can see the Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims exactly the way it was planned by architects of the thirteenth century. In 1991, Reims Cathedral was included in the UNESCO List of world heritage sites.