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For over 800 years, a magnificent Gothic art masterpiece stands in the heart of the Champagne region of France – Notre Dame de Reims. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the city of Reims annually to see the cathedral and take in the splendid art and architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse themselves in French history.
Some historical facts about Reims cathedral and the kings of France
In the 5th century, a basilica was first built on this site. Later, it was replaced by a cathedral until fire destroyed it in 1210. The present cathedral began construction in 1211 and completed in 1296. Renovations, expansions and embellishments to the cathedral have continued throughout the centuries to modern day. World War I shelling took a heavy toll on the cathedral, necessitating a massive restoration project. Several stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall were installed in the 1970s. For the 800th anniversary of the cathedral in 2011, some new stained glass windows designed by a German artist were revealed to the public. In its own unique way, this massive cathedral has accommodated various artistic and architectural influences.
The coronation of the kings of France
In 496, King Clovis of the Franks was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims. From this act sprang the tradition of having the king legitimized by the Church and swearing to defend it and uphold its principles. In the early 11th century, Reims became established as the city of coronations, with 25 coronations of French kings taking place in the cathedral from early 13th century to early 19th century. One of the coronations was of Charles VII, facilitated and attended by Joan of Arc.
Would you like to be awed by the cathedral in the city of Reims with its wondrous architecture and stained glass windows? Barge cruises on La Nouvelle Etoile, Saroche and Johanna include excursions to this important historic site. It is well worth the visit.
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