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Bourges Cathedral (World Heritage)


The Cathedral of St Etienne of Bourges, built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art and is admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. The tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass windows are particularly striking. Apart from the beauty of the architecture, it attests to the power of Christianity in medieval France.


Historical Description
There has been a Christian cult centre on this site since the 3rd century AD, when Roman Avaricum became the first Christian community in Gaul. A Romanesque basilica dedicated to St Stephen was erected here in the 1 lth century and other religious buildings quickly clustered around it. A small crypt from the Romanesque structure has survived beneath the present cathedral.
In the 12th century transepts and a monumental west front were added, but fires in the early 1190s necessitated complete rebuilding (contemporaneously with the main construction of Notre-Dame de Paris). Work began in 1195 and continued throughout the 13th century.
The new cathedral was built to a simple but harmonious plan. It is basilican in form, with chapels surrounding the nave. The perspective of the side walls and the unity of the interior space are outstanding features of the building. The sculptures on the north and south doors and the Last Judgement on the west facade are notable examples of the art of the period. The stained glass is also of exceptionally high quality.
Other historic buildings in the precincts are a 13th century tithe barn, those elements of the 17th century Bishop's Palace which survive as the Hotel de Ville, and the cathedral gardens in classical French style.

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Additional Photos by Csaba Witz (csabagaba) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 591 W: 172 N: 1399] (6554)
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