Saturday, May 17, 2014

Striving for heaven … Part 2 - Beauvais

Just an hour or so southwest of Amiens is another town with a long history dating back to the Romans. Beauvais, like Amiens, has an incredible cathedral and is also famous for fine tapestries even to this day.

We start our visit of Beauvais at the Museum of Tapestry.
Not a museum high on your list perhaps but very interesting.
Beauvais established its tapestry industry in 1664 to counter
imports from Flanders (a provence in Belgium).
It was incredible to see the detail and the amount of time
it must take to create these very large hangings.
Castles and homes were cold and drafty and these tapestries hung on the wall helped
 insulate the rooms.  Pretty expensive way to insulate your walls.
Equally important was the stories the carpets depicted. 
Examples of tapestries form the 17th century onward. Beauvais continues to create
a wide variety of tapestry art such as this scene of an auto race.
In the 13th century the bishop count, Milon de Nanteuil, decided to build the largest church of the realm.  It is the highest in vertical feet from floor to top of the transept and still stands as an amazing accomplishment. The building of a cathedral was an iffy thing back then, and ironically it never quite got finished. 
All early gothic cathedrals have had to have major repairs or restorations ever few hundred years and Beauvais perhaps more than most. Notice the metal rods helping to hold the buttresses in place.
Notice the asymmetry of the two towers? That was fairly common
for cathedrals that took several hundred years to complete.
Beautiful rosette stonework.
Floor to ceiling height is about 10 feet more than in the cathedral in Amiens making it the tallest in France.
Soaring to the heavens.
The cathedral had a number of structural challenges.
Frankly it did not give me a lot of confidence that the cathedral would stay standing.

Two clocks in this cathedral, one of the oldest in the world dating from the 14th c and this one from 1865. This astronomic clock has 90,000 perfectly synchronized parts. Don't ask me how it works or what all it does.

More really nice houses in the shadow of the cathedral.
Really nice brick patterns between the timbers.
No self respecting town should be with out a good gate and guard towers.

Many of these Roman ruins have only come to light in the last 50 years. They were "discovered" by accident as they were excavating to build the tapestry museum. This and the next photo show parts of Roman ramparts and buildings that were long, long ago covered up and forgotten.

These recent walls (probably 18th century) were built on top of earlier walls and fortifications which follow roughly the ramparts build by the Roman Legions in the 3rd and 4th century. The original Roman ramparts formed a square roughly 27 acres in area.
Layers of history on top of one another. It is so easy to walk on by and miss the
earlier foundations that enable us to strive ever upward.