Amiens, Cathedral - Visit time : half-day.
The Amiens Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral in France. You can imagine the majesty of this building, capable of holding the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris – not just once, but twice over. Beyond its outsized dimensions, UNESCO paid tribute to the technical challenge that allowed the construction of the cathedral in just 60 years, providing a unique architectural ensemble for the time. But the Amiens Cathedral also showcases perfectly-preserved artistic treasures : its western facade which dazzles under the evening lights, and its interior that houses many works of art and treasures.
The Amiens Cathedral is one of the largest classic European Gothic churches of the 13th century. Erected mainly between 1220 and 1280, it is notable for the coherence of its layout, the beauty of its three-tier elevation and the fine display of sculptures on the principal facade, the south transept and the choir screen.
From 1292 to 1375, the cathedral was embellished by a series of chapels built between the buttresses of the aisles. At the end of the Middle Ages, it took on the appearance we see today with the spire, the choir screen and the splendid carved wooden canon stalls. The events of the French Revolution hardly damaged the building, which underwent only minor restoration (mainly in the Gallery of the Kings). In addition to its extraordinary, universally recognized 13th century carved decoration, the cathedral houses two extremely rare examples of artistic foundry of the 13th century : the bronze tombs of Geoffroy d'Eu and especially Evrard de Fouilloy, bishop who undertook the reconstruction of the Amiens Cathedral in 1220.
The Amiens Cathedral is a monument that John Ruskin (English artist of the 19th century) had already counted among the great masterpieces of art, and whose influence in the development of architecture and Gothic sculpture was predominant.
The Amiens Cathedral has been included on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1981. It has also been included among the landmarks of the pilgrimage route of Santiago de Compostela since 1998.
Criteria for Selection
Criterion (i): The Amiens Cathedral is the largest church in France in built area and volume enclosed within its walls. It is surpassed only by the Reims cathedral in length and by the Beauvais cathedral in height. Its rigorously logical layout, with the nave and the choir perfectly balanced on either side of the transept, and the bold lightness of its structure that marked a new step towards the mastery of light, are prime examples of the most classic Gothic architecture.
Criterion (ii): The Amiens Cathedral had an important influence on the subsequent development of architecture and monumental sculpture : several architectural solutions used in Amiens announced the advent of a flamboyant style and examples of its influence extend as far as Burgos in Spain.
Source - Unesco / ICOMOS