Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Remi, 
and Palace of Tau, Reims (1991)

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The outstanding handling of new architectural techniques in the 13th century, and the harmonious marriage of sculptural decoration with architecture, has made Notre-Dame in Reims one of the masterpieces of Gothic art. The former abbey still has its beautiful 9th-century nave, in which lie the remains of Archbishop St Rémi (440–533), who instituted the Holy Anointing of the kings of France. The former archiepiscopal palace known as the Tau Palace, which played an important role in religious ceremonies, was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century. 

France 1938. Cathedral of Reims

Reims Cathedral, cathedral of Our Lady in the city of Reims, in the Champagne-Ardennes region of France, and considered one of the finest examples of the High Gothic style of architecture The existing cathedral, which dates from the early 13th century, is the last of a series of churches that have occupied the site. It was the coronation church of 24 kings of France, from Louis VIII in 1223 to Charles X in 1825. Charles VII was crowned there in 1429 in the presence of Joan of Arc. 

The first church on this site is believed to have been built about the year 300. A new cathedral was built by Bishop Nicasius around 400. It was there that the Frankish king Clovis I was baptized a Christian in 496, an event that initiated the close relationship between the Frankish (and later French) monarchy and papal Rome. A rebuilding of the cathedral was completed about 862, but that edifice was destroyed in a fire in 1210. 

  • France 1938. Cathedral of Reims. 

The foundation stone of the present building was laid the following year. Construction work extended over 30 years, although the decorations and furnishings were added over the next two centuries. Most of the original fittings were later destroyed by church reformers and by partisans of the French Revolution of 1789-1799. During the Revolution, the cathedral was converted temporarily into a so-called temple of reason. It was severely damaged by German shells during World War I (1914-1918) but was restored and finally reopened in 1937. 

Both the interior and the exterior of the cathedral are decorated with stone carvings. Three portals, or doorways, on the west front are especially notable for their realistic carved sculpture in the High Gothic style.

Above the north entry is a large circular stained-glass window, known as a rose window. Bar tracery, the structural and ornamental stone openwork that frames the stained glass of most High Gothic architecture, was developed at Reims. Although most of the original stained glass in the cathedral has been replaced with clear glass, a few of the windows have been restored. Several others have been redone with modern designs. The windows in the last chapel to the rear of the cathedral, for example, were designed in 1974 by French artist Marc Chagall.

Sources and links:

Other World Heritage Sites in France (on this site). Please refer to the UNESCO-listing, section France for further information on the individual properties.  

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Revised 09 sep 2007  
Copyright © 1999 Heindorffhus 
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