Amiens Cathedral is one of the largest classic 13th century Gothic churches. It is notable for the coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation, and the particularly fine display of sculptures on the principal facade and in the south transept.
Amiens Cathedral was originally built in 1152 in Romanesque style and destroyed by fire in 1218. Reconstruction was started around 1220 and the nave was completed around 1245. Reconstruction of the choir started began around 1238 and completed before 1269, and the most of this part of the building, including the transept, was completed in 1288. Thanks to technical progress, the experience gained from other building sites and the speed at which it was constructed, Notre-Dame of Amiens has a very rare uniform style. The height of the ceiling is about 42.3 m and the width of the nave is about 14.6 m. The cathedral, erected on the plans of Robert de Luzarches, consists of a nave with aisles and lateral chapels, a transept with aisles, and a choir (with deambulatory) ending in an apse surrounded by chapels. The south tower was constructed about 1366 and the north tower about 1401.
The French Revolution left the edifice, which has undergone only minor restorations, practically untouched. In 1849 onwards, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-79) arranged and repaired the gallery over the rose window of the west facade and the top of the north tower.
The facade, which is flanked by two square towers without spires, has three portals decorated with a profusion of statuary, the central portal having a remarkable 13th-century statue of Christ; they are surmounted by two galleries, the upper one containing 22 statues of the kings of Judah in its arcades, and by a rose window. A slender spire rises above the crossing. The southern portal is remarkable for a figure of the Virgin and other statuary. The light inside the cathedral is also exceptional owing to the extremely high vaults, the large number of openings, and the glazed triforium above the choir and transept.
Inside the cathedral shows the sign of the new way of mature Gothic design such as the triforium of the choir, which was glazed with stained glass. Originally the triforium of the nave as well as the choir was to be fitted by stained glass, but it was eventually walled for structural reasons, owing to the 3m increase in the height of the nave.
The coherence of its plan, the beauty of its three-tier interior elevation, and the application of an extremely scholarly sculptural programme on its principal facade and the wing of the southern transept are striking. From 1292 to 1375, the cathedral was enriched by a series of chapels built between the buttresses of the side aisles. The style of the seven radiating chapels facing the double ambulatory of the choir became a model for other cathedrals. At the end of the Middle Ages, with the spire constructed above the transept crossing, the choir screen and the splendid stalls of the canons in sculpted wood, the cathedral assumed its present-day appearance.
Besides its prodigious 12th-century sculptural decor, the cathedral houses two bronze tombs, which are extremely rare testimonies to 13th-century foundry techniques: that of Geoffroy d'Eu and especially that of Edward de Foutilloy, the bishop who in 1220 undertook the reconstruction of Notre-Dame d'Amiens. Among other 14th-century works, that of the pier of Cardinal de la Grange with the statues of Andrè Beaunevau are especially notable.References:
Bergenhus fortress is one of the oldest and best preserved castles in Norway. It contains buildings dating as far back as the 1240s, as well as later constructions built as recently as World War II. The extent of the enclosed area of today dates from the early 19th century. In medieval times, the area of the present-day Bergenhus Fortress was known as Holmen (The islet), and contained the royal residence in Bergen, as well as a cathedral and several churches, the bishop's residence, and a Dominican monastery. Excavations have revealed foundations of buildings believed to date back to before 1100, which might have been erected by King Olav Kyrre. In the 13th century, until 1299, Bergen was the capital of Norway and Holmen was thus the main seat of Norway's rulers. It was first enclosed by stone walls in the 1240s.
Of the medieval buildings, a medieval hall and a defensive tower remain. The royal hall, today known as Haakon's Hall, built around 1260, is the largest medieval secular building in Norway. The defensive tower, known in the Middle Ages as the keep by the sea, was built around 1270 by King Magnus VI Lagabøte, and contained a royal apartment on the top floor. In the 1560s it was incorporated by the commander of the castle, Erik Rosenkrantz, into a larger structure, which is today known as the Rosenkrantz Tower.
In the Middle Ages, several churches, including the Christ Church, Bergen's cathedral, were situated on the premises. These however were torn down in the period 1526 to 1531, as the area of Holmen was converted into a purely military fortification under Danish rule. From around this time, the name Bergenhus came into use. Building work on the Christ Church probably started around 1100. It contained the shrine of saint Sunniva, the patron saint of Bergen and western Norway. In the 12th and 13th centuries it was the site of several royal coronations and weddings. It was also the burial site of at least six kings, as well as other members of the royal family. The site of its altar is today marked by a memorial stone.
In the 19th century, the fortress lost its function as a defensive fortification, but it was retained by the military as an administrative base. After restoration in the 1890s, and again after destruction sustained during World War II, Bergenhus is today again used as a feast hall for public events. During World War II, the German navy used several of its buildings for their headquarters, and they also constructed a large concrete bunker within the fortress walls. The buildings, including the Haakon's Hall, were severely damaged when a Dutch ship in the service of the German navy, carrying approximately 120 tons of dynamite, exploded on 20 April 1944 in the harbour just outside the fortress walls, but the buildings were later restored.
Bergenhus is currently under the command of the Royal Norwegian Navy, which has about 150 military personnel stationed there. The fortifications Sverresborg fortress and Fredriksberg fortress also lie in the centre of Bergen. Haakon's Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower are open for visits by the public. Koengen, the central part of Bergenhus Fortress is also known as a concert venue.