Visiting Noyon Cathedral, Noyon, France: the beginnings of Medieval Gothic on a vast scale
A looming statement
Dating from the 12th and 13th centuries, this huge structure in Noyon, France is technically a parish church, but is often known as a cathedral, which, in title, it once was. (In 1790, Noyon was made part of the Diocese of Beauvais.) Whatever its official label, by the 13th century, it was dominating the town and surrounding countryside, and continues to do so today.
The northern twin tower reach a height of 66 metres. At its maximum length, the Cathedral attains just over 103 metres.
The style of the Cathedral (let's call it this) is said to represent a transition from Romanesque to Gothic. The frequency of the pointed arching particularly demonstrates the development of what became the very widespread Medieval Gothic style. The Cathedral's cloisters display particularly striking examples of Gothic arches.
The Cathedral's library is housed in an ornate building. The interior of the Cathedral notably has some large nave galleries (see photo, right), from which, again, a notion may be obtained of the sheer size of the building.
In Roman times there was a settlement locally known as Noviomagus, from which the name 'Noyon' is thought to have been derived.
Previous edifices stood on the site of the present cathedral; in fact, Noyon was already the seat of a bishop in the year 531. Here in Noyon, Charlemagne (c.742-814) was anointed King of the Franks in 768. Although Aachen, Germany, is regarded as the city of Charlemagne, it was in Noyon that the public recognition of his reign was established.
The Cathedral was damaged in World War One and, subsequently, repair work was being carried out until the late 1930s to this looming, Medieval monument.
Noyon is situated in the Oise department of northern France. While in Medieval times it was linked with the Île de France area, in present day French administration Noyon is in Picardy (French: Picardie ).
December 17, 2012
Also worth seeing
In Noyon itself, the birthplace of John Calvin, 16th century French Protestant leader, is a museum which thus recalls a personality associated with a different interpretation of Christianity from the one represented by the Cathedral. Noyon also has other museums, notably dedicated to local history and to rural life.
Chiry-Ourscamp (distance: 6.5 kilometres); its Abbey ruins are impressive.
Senlis (distance: 61 kilometres); the 13th century spire of the Cathedral is very conspicuous.
How to get there: United Airlines flies from New York Newark to Paris (Aéroport Paris-Charles de Gaulle ; distance to Noyon : 85 kilometres), from where car rental is available. Paris itself is at a distance of 107 kilometres from Noyon . The French railroad company SNCF maintains a service between Paris Gare du Nord and Noyon . Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice. Please check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information.
MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.
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