Friday, 3 April 2009

Bourges - the cathedral

I had intended this post to be about the medieval city of Bourges, but to do either the cathedral or the rest of the city justice, it had to be split into two posts.  And there are rather a lot of pictures, so I hope not too slow to load.

I have wanted to see Bourges properly ever since, years ago, my son swam in a swimming competition there.  We dashed in, watched and cheered as required, and dashed out again, but I always felt we had missed an opportunity, and we had.

The Cath├ędrale Saint-Etienne is listed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites.  The listing says it was "built between the late 12th and late 13th centuries, is one of the great masterpieces of Gothic art and is admired for its proportions and the unity of its design. The tympanum, sculptures and stained-glass windows are particularly striking. Apart from the beauty of the architecture, it attests to the power of Christianity in medieval France."

The east end

I had to look up the definition of "tympanum", the semi-circular or triangular decorative wall surface over an entrance , but it turns out I had already noticed they were stunning:

The southernmost of the five main entrances.

The entrance on the southern side.

Inside was a huge open area, with double aisles on each side.

 The height was breathtaking.

Most of the stained glass dates from the 13th century.

It's possible to go to the top of the north tower, but they do warn you there are 396 steps.  I can do that!

I don't deny, it was an effort!  And then when I reached the top, I was horrified.

Nothing to hold me there.  That parapet looked downright flimsy!  I approached with great caution and the view was amazing. Clinging on for dear life, I took some pictures.

The higgledy-piggledy houses in the old city, with the modern city further in the distance.

Towards the east.

After visiting the cathedral, it was time to see the rest of the medieval centre, but that will have to wait for another post.  To be continued....

More about Bourges.


  1. Eeek, A! 396 steps?? And a flimsy parapet? At least you got a great view for your troubles though! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. A, nice photographs, it just serves to remind me there are lots of fantastic places to visit much nearer to home.
    Definitely worth the climb.

  3. 396 steps? Quel horreur!

    Beautiful pictures though.

    It is amazing what beautiful buildings could be designed and built so long ago.


  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. @YTSL, yes eeek is right! I didn't like the look of the parapet at all. I was the only person up there, hardly surprising, but I was glad that nobody could see my very tentative approach, just enough to take some pictures.

    @Mike, yes, there are some fantastic places around and often not the most famous and popular.

    @Elaine, I kept telling myself it would do me good. :) The craftsmanship was out of this world.

  6. Absolutely beautiful pictures! Thank you for sharing them!

  7. A, that is an absolutely amazing building! I've never understood how architecture could be so bland, cold and uninviting, all in the name of 'modern,' nowadays. I would've loved to have witnessed the building of that place...

    I can't wait to see the next installment!

  8. I had to climb 250 steps to a cinema to collect a year's supply of tickets and my legs were almost breaking.... but 396 steps!? No. I give up.

  9. Wow, what a place. I have never been to a cathedral like that. I'd love to see it in person. I listened to a program at my Rotary club put on by a Rotarian from Russia. She did a slide show talking about where she was from, the culture, food, how she adapted to America, etc. One of her chief complaints was how plain the churches are in America. Where she is from ever church is a big grand piece of architecture and she had the pictures to prove it!

  10. Wow, loving the cathedral. Love to get my camera there!

  11. A. as usual I love the pictures. It always seems like you lead such a fascinating life. I loved these.

  12. @MWW and thank you too!

    @ECL, I was determined to get there, but it was a close run thing. 250 steps to collect tickets seems pretty bad too.

    @Wendy, we do have a lot of very elaborate churches in Europe, and especially Russia.

    @Alison, at first, you know, I was vaguely disappointed (shh, don't tell) but I was thinking there are plenty of equally impressive ones in the UK. In fact though, it grew on me, and I was more and more impressed.

    @ettarose, not so fascinating really, I just do a lot of touristy things. But thanks!


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin