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INSIDE
Introduction

 


When entering the church, one is immediately aware of its magnificent architecture comprehending a nave with six bays, two side aisles and thirteen chapels in the side aisles.

A visitor can be surprised by an architecture not so common in churches: most of the time, the choir is higher and lighter than the nave, whereas here it is exactly the opposite. The inside space of the church is clearly divided into two parts, which correspond to different building periods (refer to the History pages): the chancel, transept and apse on the one hand, and the 22-metre high nave which rises above the older parts on the other hand.

The contrast between the two parts is made obvious by the high blind wall that ends the nave at transept level. (Behind the wall is the 13th century tower.) Such discontinuity helps enhance the height of the nave by creating a large upward movement. We can imagine that the 15th century builders shunned the tremendous cost of a major reconstruction that would have raised the chancel, the transept and the apse up to the same height as the nave and that would also have meant destroying the lantern tower.

 

Map showing the various building periods


Main dimensions :
  • Total length : 61m
  • Length of the nave : 34m
  • Width of the nave : 8m
  • Height of the nave : 22m

 

When entering a church, a tourist or a contemporary visitor often sees only the architectural or artistic side of the construction and he forgets that it is a place of worship and that its builders wanted to make it the House of God, the representation on earth of the Heavenly Jerusalem. The Greek word 'Ekklesia', from which derives such English word as 'ecclesiastic'or the French 'église" (= church) , means The House of God and has been used since the third century to refer to this place of worship. Furthermore, since the 11th century, the building itself has been meant to reveal the magnificence of the Lord to everyone. A church displays architectural patterns possessing function and meaning. It is therefore not surprising that the stones and their lay-out should be loaded with symbols and hidden meaning that medieval men (even if this does not include the majority of the faithful) knew where to find, how to decipher and understand.

Church symbolism


To go fa
rther:
a few specialised pages...


What changes in 12th / 13th c. philosophy and theology affected church building ? How was it possible to build such high structures? How can you recognise 13th c. Gothic from 14th century? etc...

 



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Glossary

Inside : [Introduction] [Romanesque choir] [12 - 13th c. Gothic] [14 - 15th c. Gothic] [Remaissance] [Small carvings]

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