A Trio of Cathedrals:
Yesterday was a train day traveling from Burgundy to the Loire. With stops in Nevers and Bourges along the way, I had time to see three cathedrals in less than 24 hours. St Cyr in Nevers, St Etienne in Bourges and St Gatien in Tours. From Tours I will start biking up the Loire, hopefully reaching Orleans by Friday and then heading back to Paris for a couple days before flying home next Monday.
It is amazing to think of all the human effort and cost that it took to construct a cathedral. A 'quick' build took at least 10 years and many took even longer. Some were added to and modified over centuries as the church gained wealth and prestige or when the local dukes wanted to out-do their neighbors.
St Cyr in Nevers was very strange. Parts were Gothic, parts were Romanesque, and the stained glass was very modern - some windows done within the last 10 years. Bourges is considered one of the masterpieces of Gothic architecture - modeled and improved on Notre Dame in Paris. It has amazing stained glass through out the cathedral, each panel telling a different biblical story. You need a set of binoculars to even begin to see the detail in the windows. St Gatien in Tours is a landmark visible across the city. Unfortunately the facade is undergoing repairs, so scaffolding covered parts of the exterior. Inside, this cathedral seemed less dark an forbidding than most. Again, the stained glass ringed the choir of the cathedral and there were beautiful rose windows on both ends of the transcept.
One other church in Tours tells a different story. All that remains of the basilica of St. Martin are two towers about a block from each other along a modern street. The first church on this site was build around 500 A.D. It was destroyed by fire, rebuilt, destroyed by fire again, rebuilt again, added to and modified over the centuries. In the 1500's it was pillaged by the Huguenots and during the French revolution it was used as a stable. In 1797, the vaults collasped. Instead of rebuilding this time, a housing project was built in its place. Now the two towers are the only clue to what must have once been an amazing cathedral.