Amiens Cathedral

The Cathedral of Our Lady of Amiens – Cathédrale Notre-Dame d’Amiens, or simply Amiens Cathedral, is a Roman Catholic cathedral and seat of the Bishop of Amiens. It is situated on a slight ridge overlooking the River Somme in the regional capital of the Picardy region of France, some 120 km north of Paris.

The cathedral is the tallest complete cathedral in France, its stone-vaulted nave reaching a height of 42.30 m (surpassed only by the incomplete Beauvais Cathedral). It also has the greatest interior volume of any French cathedral, estimated at 200,000 m³. The cathedral was built between 1220 and c.1270 and has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1981. Although it has lost most of its original stained glass, Amiens Cathedral is renowned for the quality and quantity of early 13th century Gothic sculpture in the main west facade and the south transept portal, and a large quantity of polychrome sculpture from later periods inside the building.

Amiens cathedral contains the largest medieval interior in Western Europe, supported by 126 pillars. Both the nave and the chancel are vast but extremely light, with considerable amounts of stained glass surviving, despite the depredations of war. The ambulatory surrounding the choir is richly decorated with polychrome sculpture and flanked by numerous chapels. One of the most sumptuous is the Drapers’ chapel. The cloth industry was the most dynamic component of the medieval economy, especially in northern France, and the cloth merchants were keen to display their wealth and civic pride. Another striking chapel is dedicated to St Thomas of Canterbury, a 13th century dedication that complements the cathedral’s own very full list of martyrs. The interior contains works of art and decoration from every period since the building of the cathedral.

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