The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Amiens is the largest gothic church in the whole of France. This is no mean feat in a country which contains such buildings as Chartres, Notre Dame de Paris, Troyes, Beauvais etc. The Cathedral was begun in 1220 and, incredibly, was finished just 50 years later. The speed of construction means that Amiens is also one of the purest of all gothic Cathedrals with a conformity across the whole building lacking elsewhere.
The Treasury of the Cathedral contains the head of St. John the Baptist and is one of France's most important pilgrimage destinations. Some restoration work was undertaken in the 1850s but nothing was done to destroy the look of the Cathedral.
Incredibly, considering the devastation meted out on Amiens during World Wars I and II, the Cathedral survived intact. The frontage of the Cathedral is one of the most elegant and perfect examples of medieval architecture you will find anywhere. Traces of paint were found on the figures on the front and this has been used as a basis for a colour reconstruction of what the Cathedral would have looked like when fully painted. During 2000 an intricate representation was projected onto the Cathedral's walls during the evening.
It is certainly worth visiting Amiens purely to see this wonderful building.
Photo - Andrew J. Müller
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