Soissons Cathedral

Soissons, France

The construction of the Gothic Soissons Cathedral south transept was begun about 1177, and the lowest courses of the choir in 1182. The choir with its original three-storey elevation and extremely tall clerestory was completed in 1211. This was earlier than Chartres, on which the design was supposed to have been based. Work then continued into the nave until the late 13th century.

The single western tower dates from the mid-13th century and is an imitation of those of Notre Dame de Paris, which it equals in height. The tower was restored after it and part of the nave were severely damaged in World War I. A matching tower on the other side of the façade was originally planned, but never built.

The graceful southern transept, the oldest portion of the whole edifice, terminates in an apse. Unlike the rest of the building, it is divided inside into four (rather than three) levels.

The choir end of the cathedral has stained glass from the 13th century. A tapestry from the 15th century depicts the life of the martyrs Gervasius and Protasius, the patron saints of the cathedral. Rubens' Adoration of the Shepherds hangs in the northern transept, as does a painting by Philippe de Champaigne.

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Details

Founded: 1177
Category: Religious sites in France
Historical period: Birth of Capetian dynasty (France)

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

TheEvdriver (16 months ago)
We pay a longer visit to the cathedral, which is scaffolded from the outside. The mighty, almost 9m measuring rose window was pressed out by a bad winter storm a few years ago and fell into the church. Today the restoration is in full swing. The cathedral combines different building epochs of the Gothic and was redesigned several times during its long construction period (start of construction 1176, completion 13th century). This can be seen, for example, in the transept that was created in the first phase, which is more typically early Gothic and consists of 4 "floors" of arches, columns and windows. (In contrast to a three-story structure in the entire rest of the church) Later during the construction, the decision was made to tear down the already finished choir again, because it seemed too faint-hearted and to replace it with a more splendid building. So you see, a wonderful mess of: we stop the work here and continue there and so on. In the overall picture, this is also noticeable on closer inspection of the little things. The two side aisles are actually crooked in the connecting arches to the transept in order to make the connection. We have never seen that before.
Neil R G Fudge (16 months ago)
Typical local Cathedral in France, rebuilt after the First World War with stones from a monastery close by.
Luuk Akkerman (2 years ago)
Currently being partly under restoration in the outside. Still open for visits. No fees.
John Farrow (3 years ago)
Small cathedral off the beaten tourist track. Very down-to-earth with few airs and graces. Spent a good quarter of an hour chatting with the verger. Lovely visit.
Clemens Janse (3 years ago)
Great cathedral. Very big and beautiful building.
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The Church of St Eustace was built between 1532-1632. St Eustace"s is considered a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. The church’s reputation was strong enough of the time for it to be chosen as the location for a young Louis XIV to receive communion. Mozart also chose the sanctuary as the location for his mother’s funeral. Among those baptised here as children were Richelieu, Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson, future Madame de Pompadour and Molière, who was also married here in the 17th century. The last rites for Anne of Austria, Turenne and Mirabeau were pronounced within its walls. Marie de Gournay is buried there.

The origins of Saint Eustache date back to 13th century. The church became a parish church in 1223, thanks to a man named Jean Alais who achieved this by taxing the baskets of fish sold nearby, as granted by King Philip Augustus. To thank such divine generosity, Alais constructed a chapel dedicated to Sainte-Agnès, a Roman martyr. The construction of the current church began in 1532, the work not being finally completed until 1637. The name of the church refers to Saint Eustace, a Roman general of the second century AD who was burned, along with his family, for converting to Christianity, and it is believed that it was the transfer of a relic of Saint Eustache from the Abbey to Saint-Denis to the Church of Saint Eustache which resulted in its naming. Jeanne Baptiste d"Albert de Luynes was baptised here.

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The Chapel of the Virgin was built in 1640 and restored from 1801 to 1804. It was inaugurated by Pius VII on the 22nd of December, 1804 when he came to Paris for the coronation of Napoleon. The apse chapel, with a ribbed cul-de-four vault, has at its centre a sculpture of the Virgin and Child of Jean-Baptiste Pigalle that the painter Thomas Couture highlighted by three large paintings.

With 8,000 pipes, the organ is reputed to be the largest pipe organ in France, surpassing the organs of Saint Sulpice and Notre Dame de Paris. The organ originally constructed by P.-A. Ducroquet was powerful enough for the premiere of Hector Berlioz" titanic Te Deum to be performed at St-Eustache in 1855.