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

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Heeman (4 months ago)
One of the best and big cathedral to visit. It is located in a very calm neighborhood.
Mano Mathew (4 months ago)
Amazing gothic church. It was a pleasure to attend the mass. Parts of the church are under renovation. Worth visiting and going through the history.
Peter Agoston (6 months ago)
Its designers had the ambition to make it the largest gothic cathedral in France - ahead of Amiens' gem. Victim of two collapses, one in the 13th century, the other in the 16th century, it remains unfinished today; only the choir and the transept have been built. The planned nave of the cathedral was never constructed. (As an outstanding example of the Vanitatum Vanitas) today Saint Pierre of Beauvais is the highest cathedral of the 7 Picardy cathedral wonders. note: Although it has no main nave & towers you can visit the famous astronomical clock inside {paid feature}
Damoc Cristian (7 months ago)
Beautiful Cathedral which surely worths your time to visit. I think it has a unique "clock" which is grandios and beautifully crafted, which shows not just time, but also planet view to the sun, view of the stars in a night sky (planesphere celeste).
Demetra Panaretou (9 months ago)
A very beautiful cathedral of the 13th century. Beautiful gothic architecture. It has the highest Gothic choir in the world. At some point in time, in the 16th century the cathedral of Beauvais was, with its tower, the highest human construction in the world. It was designed with the ambition to make it the largest cathedral in France and you get the feeling when entering the Cathedral.
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