Yes, that is one large cathedral. In fact, the largest in France. I read that two of Paris’s Notre Dame cathedrals could fit inside. Yikes. Visiting the cathedral wasn’t the only reason for making it to Amiens, it was a central jumping off point for WWI sites – which was our plan.
Before that, let’s talk our accommodations. Another AirBNB with a teeny, tiny parking spot for Eric to squeeze into. We have a BMW rental – no Eric, we don’t need one – and while a fun vehicle to drive, bigger than most vehicles on the road and subsequent parking in France.
Getting in and out was a lot of fun, for me at least. Ha! I was directing his pathway before hopping in.
We didn’t plan on staying in Amiens for very long, so we found a place in the city center – we were good. A bedroom for each, decent kitchen and one bathroom – you had to plan your routines around each other.
Back to the cathedral…….
It was built almost entirely between 1220 and 1270, a remarkably short period of time for a Gothic cathedral, giving it an unusual unity of style. The details are just so amazing!
The builders were trying to maximize the internal dimension in order to reach for the heavens and bring in more light.
The initial impetus for the building came from the installation of the reputed head of John The Baptist. A sumptuous reliquary with the face of the Saint was made to house the skull. The skull and reliquary were lost during the revolution, but a 19th century replica was made and is displayed.
The cathedral was fought over during both World Wars and suffered significant damage and was repeatedly occupied by both sides. Some of the stained glass is from the original construction. Others were created in the more recent centuries. The rose windows were amongst the oldest.
There are a number of memorials along the columns recognizing those countries that fought for and around Amiens.
Stopping over at Amiens really upped our knowledge around WWI and some coming posts will be sharing our stops.
BTW – also read that Amiens hosts the largest Christmas market in Northern France. Who knows…….we may be back.