Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reims Cathedral-800 Year Anniversary

This year marks the 800 anniversary of Reims cathedral. On a recent visit this July, I revisited the Gothic masterpiece, classified by UNESCO, World Heritage site. Its building started in 1211 to replace an earlier church where Clovis was baptized in 496. Reims Cathedral has been the site of choice for the coronations of 29 kings of France since the 11th century. Of note, in 1429 Joan of Arc escorted Charles VII to his coronation in Reims. The architecture features beautiful and intricately sculpted limestone facade with smiling angels, soaring interior heights and a long narrow nave. Unfortunately, most of the cathedral's original stained glass windows have disappeared, victim of the ravage of time , weather, vandalism during the French Revolution and wars. We can still admire restored versions and new windows by modern artists like Marc Chagall and this past June to commemorate the 800 anniversary of the cathedral six new panes designed by German artist Imy Knoebel were installed. The highlight of my visit to Reims, was viewing the artful sound and light show projected on the cathedral's facade that retraced its long history. It can be viewed every night till the end of October and it is well worth a visit.

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