Beauvais Cathedral

Beauvais, France

The Cathedral of Saint Peter of Beauvais is, in some respects, the most daring achievement of Gothic architecture, and consists only of a transept (16th-century) and choir, with apse and seven polygonal apsidal chapels (13th-century), which are reached by an ambulatory.

A small Romanesque church dating back to the 10th-century, known as the Basse Œuvre, still occupies the site destined for the nave of the Beauvais Cathedral.

Work was begun in 1225 under count-bishop Milo of Nanteuil, with funding of his family, immediately after the third in a series of fires in the old wooden-roofed basilica, which had reconsecrated its altar only three years before the fire; the choir was completed in 1272, in two campaigns, with an interval (1232–38) owing to a funding crisis provoked by a struggle with Louis IX. Under Bishop Guillaume de Grez, an extra 4.9 m was added to the height, to make it the highest-vaulted cathedral in Europe. The vaulting in the interior of the choir reaches 48 m in height, far surpassing the concurrently constructed Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Amiens, with its 42-metre nave.

The work was interrupted in 1284 by the collapse of some of the vaulting of the recently completed choir. This collapse is often seen as a disaster that produced a failure of nerve among the French masons working in Gothic style; modern historians have reservations about this deterministic view.

However, large-scale Gothic design continued, and the choir was rebuilt at the same height, albeit with more columns in the chevet and choir, converting the vaulting from quadripartite vaulting to sexpartite vaulting. The transept was built from 1500 to 1548. In 1573, the fall of a too-ambitious 153-m central tower stopped work again. The tower would have made the church the tallest structure in the world at the time. Afterwards little structural addition was made.

Its façades, especially that on the south, exhibit all the richness of the late Gothic style. The carved wooden doors of both the north and the south portals are masterpieces, respectively, of Gothic and Renaissance workmanship. The church possesses an elaborate astronomical clock in neo-Gothic taste (1866) and tapestries of the 15th and 17th centuries, but its chief artistic treasures are stained glass windows of the 13th, 14th, and 16th centuries, the most beautiful of them from the hand of Renaissance artist Engrand Le Prince, a native of Beauvais. To him also is due some of the stained glass in St-Etienne, the second church of the town, and an interesting example of the transition stage between the Gothic and the Renaissance styles.

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Details

Founded: 1225
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Late Capetians (France)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Stefano Lucarelli (2 years ago)
Magnificent Gothic cathedral, one of the most beautiful in France along with Notre Dame of Paris, the cathedral of Amiens and that one in Reims. Very interesting and beautiful is the astronomical clock inside. To be visited!
Beba 2 (2 years ago)
Still waiting to see it from inside.. Church "closed on Sundays" somewhat defies its purpose. Weird.
Francisco Navarrete (2 years ago)
One of the highest gothic .cathedrals with 48 m height, however uncomplete missing its bell tower. Dedicated to St Peter, inside you'll find an astronomic clock really impressive as well as many structural reinforcements which evidence the effect of wind over such a tall building. Nice surroundings with rests of romanic walls. A must if you are at Beauvais
Matteo Pucci (2 years ago)
An amazing cathedral. The symbol of the city. Huge dimensions.
Ernest Brk (3 years ago)
It's a must see if you have a connecting flight in the Beauvais airport and some free time! Extremely beautiful place! It's free to walk inside. Liked it very much!
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