Facts About Notre Dame Cathedral In Amiens; Gothic Architecture With Tone; Part Two

by hermes7 on December 9, 2012

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Notre Dame Cathedral in Amiens has been called perfection inside and out.

 

Many Gothic architecture heads have seen Amiens cathedral as the culmination of what builders of Paris Notre Dame and Chartres Cathedral aspired for. We’ll look at Amiens Cathedral’s interior in this post–afterwards, you’ll probably agree with them.

Here are few facts about Amiens Notre Dame Cathedral’s interior.

1. Its nave soars to 137 feet. Paris Notre Dame Cathedral’s nave seemed lofty when it was new by rising to just over 108 feet. Light from Amiens’ upper windows makes the nave brighter than Paris Cathedral’s. Laon Cathedral’s nave is also bright enough to seem full of divine illumination, but Amiens Cathedral’s nave is almost twice as high–the light seems like a field coming directly from the heavens.

2. The parts of Amiens Cathedral’s interior form a system of parts that are logically inter-related. The lower columns are about as high as the 2 upper sections combined–the blind windows in the middle (the triforium) and the upper windows (the clerestory). Each pair of clerestory windows matches a triforium’s bay.

And each pair of triforium bays matches a lower arch.

And each system of 1 lower arch, 2 triforium bays and 4 clerestory windows rises to a cross-vault in the ceiling.

All these segments proceed in a line from the entrance at the west facade to the altar. Westerners have often thought in terms of linear arrangements of distinct objects since ancient Greece. But this line advances into spirit in Amiens Cathedral.

3. Each section of 2 sets of clerestory windows rises into a single rose window (shown above).

So each section in Amiens Cathedral’s interior is a vertical line of 3 levels of arches, and they end in a circular design which seems to unify them from the heavenly elevation that they aspire for. The cathedral’s vertical lines also become spirit.

4. They turn material into spirit in another way. If you look at the above shot closely, you can see that the 4 lancet windows are set back from their bases. The 2 triforium bays are also set back a bit. So the lines become thinner as it rises, and the nave thus becomes roomier. The heavenly realms predominate over the ground that my sneakers were treading on.

 

5. The pillars in Amiens Notre Dame Cathedral aren’t the plain cylinders that Paris Notre Dame’s early pillars are. They take a clover form with 4 smaller pillars, and they have elegant capitals which are in vine patterns.

 

6. The aisles in Amiens Cathedral (above) are as high as some cathedrals’ naves. They seem to rise to become pure spirit.

7. Amiens Cathedral is 145 meters long–longer than Paris Notre Dame. Amiens’ elegant aisles seem to extend horizontally into spirit too.

Other cathedrals in the High Gothic style have inter-related parts too–see Chartres Cathedral. These components form a coherent system which reflects the divine order that 13th century folks believed that God created. But in Amiens Cathedral, these parts transcend their own material. When you examine the building closely, the whole system transforms from logic to spirit. The logical relationships are  there, but as you admire them, they dissolve into spiritual unity.

Bourges Cathedral is my other fave example of Gothic architecture.

 

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