Reims Cathedral otherwise known as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Reims, is located in the city of Reims on the Vesle River. Reims has been recognised as the cathedral of coronations having been the site of 25 coronations, from Louis VIII in 1223 to Charles X in 1825, only two kings were not crowned, here Louis VI and Henri IV. Joan of Arc was actually present during the coronation of Charles VII in 1429.
Construction of the Church
The first cathedral was actually built to the east of the current one in the middle of the third century, called the Church of the Holy Apostles. The first cathedral built in the current location wasn’t until the end of the 5th century. By the 9th century it was decided to rebuild the cathedral to be suitable for hosting the coronation of the king and it becomes known as the cathedral of coronations from 1027 on. Unfortunately in 1210 fire ravaged the cathedral and rebuilding began in 1211. Yet another fire in 1481 destroyed part of the roof and this required restoration work. Since then the cathedral has suffered damage from a hurricane in 1712, looting in the revolution and German bombing in 1914.
We decided to do an adults only day trip, combining Reims Cathedral and the surrounding champagne areas, while the kids caught up on school work. Our first stop was to the cathedral before a relaxing lunch in Reims. Reims cathedral suffered greatly through WW1, in early 1914 German shells hit the cathedral catching the roof on fire. As you walk around the exterior of the church, you can actually still see the holes made from more than 200 shells that hit the cathedral during WW1, which fascinated my husband.
One of the best things about this cathedral aesthetically speaking is the stained glass. There are still some windows with stained glass from the 13th century, like the large roses in the north and west of the cathedral and a few of the high windows. In contrast to the 13th century windows are the contemporary ones created since 1937. The modern windows range from classic stained glass created by Jacques Simon in 1937 to more abstract ones created by artists Marc Chagall in 1974 and Imi Knoebel in 2008. The windows alone make this cathedral worth a visit.
Tourist Information for Reims Cathedral
- The cathedral is open daily from 7.30 am and closes at 7.30 pm – Monday – Saturday and 7.15 pm on Sundays and holidays
- 25th December and 1st of January the cathedral is open 9 am – 12.30 pm/2.30 pm – 7.15 pm
- Last entrance is 15 minutes prior to closing
The entrance to the cathedral is free
Official Website: http://www.cathedrale-reims.com/
Written by Karen
Updated January 2008