Church of Saint-Maclou

Rouen, France

The Church of Saint-Maclou is considered one of the best examples of the Flamboyant style of Gothic architecture in France. Saint-Maclou, along with Rouen Cathedral, the Palais de Justice (also Flamboyant), and the Church of St. Ouen, form a famous ensemble of significant Gothic buildings in Rouen.

The Construction on Saint-Maclou began sometime after 1432; it was to replace an existing parish church that had suffered from several years of neglect resulting in a collapsed transept roof. In its place, master mason Pierre Robin created a basilica style church with four radiating chapels around an octagonal choir. The decoration of the church is macabre, beckoning back to the church's grim past rooted in the black death pandemic. The transept is non-projecting complete with piers that support the above lantern tower. The choir is rather large in size for the structure and has two bays and four radiating chapels that branch off of the ambulatory. Overall, the plan places its emphasis on the transept which is midway between the choir and the nave. Saint-Maclou has the classic three-story elevation of an arcade, triforium, and clerestory. The famous western facade is towerless with five gabled porch with flying buttresses above the aisles that are attached to the western wall featuring a rose window.

The Church of Saint Maclou was built during the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic period. Contrary the romanesque semi-circular arches, the Gothic period introduced pointed arches. Gothic architecture mastered the art of creating a large arch without it collapsing - pointed arches. The elongated, Gothic look can be seen in this photo. Other architectural innovations of the Gothic period include: compound piers, tympanums, radiating chapels, jambs, buttresses, and flying buttresses. Contrary to traditional Roman capitals, compound piers were not perfectly cylindricalt; instead, it looks as if multiple Ionic capitals were stuck onto one central capital. The space above the cathedral door within the arch is referred to as the tympanum. Typically, the tympanum is filled with sculpture of a scene alluding to Heaven and Hell. The tympanum of the main entrance of the Church of Saint Maclou displays Christ standing with his hands held out to people surrounding him, those to his right heading for Heaven and those to his left heading for the fiery pits of Hell. This message, commonly depicted during the Gothic period, was designed to scary and evoke emotion from the public. The architectural plan of Maclou includes a radiating chapel. Although the ambulatory going around the church was customary during the Romanesque period as well, it appears in Saint Maclou’s blueprint.

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Founded: c. 1432
Category: Religious sites in France

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Mr Vexorus (3 years ago)
Must-see!
Marat Rakhimov (3 years ago)
Important! Opening hours: only Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10 to 12 and from 14 to 18
L. Windsor (4 years ago)
A fine gothic gem, must see.
Peter Kidd (4 years ago)
Nice from the outside, but only open on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, so I didn't see inside.
kaeso (4 years ago)
Beautiful Church in the old town of Rouen. The church was partially destroyed during WW2 but rebuilt the same way.
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