We needed a stopover on the way to Brittany and Rheims was suggested. I am just so very happy that we listened to recommendations from the travel forum on Tripadvisor. The cathedral is so inspiring and beautiful.
Rheims is the cathedral where the Kings of France were crowned! It has hosted over 33 sovereign coronations in just over 1000 years. The final monarch to be crowned there was Charles X in 1825.
As a masterpiece of Gothic architecture it was made a world heritage historic site in 1991. It has a 2303 statues, making it the world’s religious building with the most statues. This includes the famous smiling angel or “Ange au sourire” which is the emblem of Rheims.
This statue with the bishop holding his head makes me laugh.
The cathedral is huge and measures 149 meters in length and 87 meters in height, including the bell tower, built in the shape of a Latin cross.
There are such informative display boards in English, French and German throughout the Cathedral, and entrance is free!
I quote from one of them:
“Following the baptism of CLOVIS by saint REMI on Christmas Eve of 496, the Kings of France gradually began to make the journey to RHEIMS to be anointed by the Archbishop. The anointing with the oil links the king of France to the kings of Israel and especially to DAVID.
From 1027 onwards, all the kings were crowned in RHEIMS with the exception of LOUIS VI and HENRI IV. After the Revolution only CHARLES X received the sacrament in 1825.
A memorable coronation was that of SAINT LOUIS in 1226 when the cathedral was under construction; the young King was 12 years old.
One of the most famous coronations was that of CHARLES VII who was brought to RHEIMS thanks to the tenacity of JOAN of ARC in 1429.”
In the 1914-1918 war the cathedral was badly damaged and was restored with money from the people of France as well as from Rockerfeller.
The cathedral is also famous for its sets of stained glass windows.
This set is done by Marc Chagal in the most stunning blue and green hues.
Another set near the statue in memory of Joan of Arc is crafted by Imi Knoebel.
Again from a display board I quote “At the centre of the large rose-window, MARY rises from the dead, assisted in the first corolla by the twelve apostles and in the second by twenty-four musicians. This illustration is a reminder that the cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady of the ASSUMPTION”.
Isn’t it just such a beautiful place!