St Denis Cathedral, Paris


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St Denis Cathedral, Paris is one of the most important building in the history of architecture. It was here that the Gothic style of architecture was first invented. Historically, it is also the historic burial place of the French monarchy.

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  • The basilica stands on the site of a Gallo-Roman cemetery with the tomb of St Denis, Paris France, thought to have been the first Bishop of Paris, who was martyred c 250 AD. This place of pilgrimage was built in the 5C. Dagobert was a benefactor to it the 7C, and Pepin the Short was crowned king here in 754. It became one of the most powerful Benedictine abbeys in the Middle Ages. Most of the kings and queens of France were buried here from the 6C onwards.
  • The Powerpoint slideshow introduce the salient elements of the Gothic Architectural styles, with comparison to Romanesque architectural style. It uses The Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis (Basilique Cathedrale de Saint-Denis) the birth place of the Gothic style and the Duomo of Pisa for comparison.
  • The slideshow of St Denis Basilica, Paris, includes several photos of the stained glass windows.
  • The Powerpoint album also included a selection of photos from the Royal Necropolis, in the Basilica Cathedraf of Saint-Denis, Paris.
  • It is also the burial place of the important French king Francois I. St Denis Basilica, Paris.
  • The tomb of Louis XVI and his famous wife Marie-Antonette.
  • The church, Basilica Cathedral of Saint-Denis is situated in the north of Paris. It is easily accessed by the Paris Metro. The map and the satellite photos show the location of the Parisian Basilica.
  • St Denis Cathedral, Paris

    1. 1. First created 14 May2011. Version 1.0 14 May 2011. Jerry Tse. London . The Basilica Cathedral of Saint Denis The birth place of Gothic, Saint Denis, Paris, France All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial and personal use. In the 12C, Sugar, Abbot of St Denis began using new building techniques and created a new architectural style, known as Gothic, which became the main European architectural styles for several centuries. It is rarely possible to trace the origin of an architectural style back to a single building, as in the case of St Denis Basilica.
    2. 3. Façade The western façade retained some Romanesque features, particularly the portals.
    3. 4. Façade
    4. 7. Façade The main door is a faithful reproduction of the original bronze door, showing the Passion and the Resurrection. The second medallion of the right panel shows Sugar at Christ’s feet. St Denis Basilica. Medallion on the door showing Jesus being sentenced.
    5. 8. Façade A row of four figures of kings and queens on the western façade. St Denis Basilica.
    6. 9. Arches Prior to the emergence of Gothic, the main architectural style was Romanesque. Romanesque style started to appear around 9C (some put it as early as 6C). It is characterised by semi-circular arches. The above photo shows the interior of Duomo in Pisa, with its semi-circular arches.
    7. 10. Arches In contrast to the semi-circular arches of Romanesque style, the Gothic architectural style is dominated by pointed arches. The photo shows the interior of the Basilica of St Denis at the choir. Also note that a great deal of the walls are replaced by windows with light flooding into the interior. Gothic is architecture style that emphasizes the vertical.
    8. 11. Wall The weight of the roof on Romanesque churches are supported by massive wall. Note that the walls are solid with very small window openings. This gives the building a feeling of solidity. It also means the interior is very dark. Photos of the Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    9. 12. Wall In contrast the massive walls are eliminated in Gothic and replaced by windows. The weight of the roof are supported by massive pillars instead. The side view of St Denis Basilica.
    10. 13. The interior of the church flooded with lights near the transept. St Denis Basilica. Interior
    11. 14. Flying buttress The thin walls in Gothic architecture are reinforced by buttresses on the sides and flying buttresses on top for the upper walls. St Denis Basilica.
    12. 15. Ceiling Left – The coffered ceiling of the Duomo, Pisa. Right – The vaulted ceiling of the St Denis Basilica. The vaulted ceiling of St Denis is not unlike some of its Romanesque predecessors. A Gothic vault is constructed using pointed ribs (arches). Likewise a Romanesque vault has semi-circular ribs.
    13. 16. Flamboyant Vault Left – Ceiling of Winchester Cathedral. Right – Bath Abbey. Both of these ceilings date back to early 16C. As the Gothic style developed the vaulted ceiling became increasing elaborate. This is particularly true in England. This is described as flamboyant style.
    14. 17. Windows As more of the supporting walls were replaced by windows, the interior of the Gothic church is filled with light. Note the row of windows on the lower wall.
    15. 18. Windows An external view of a window with flying buttresses on the right of the photo. St Denis Basilica.
    16. 19. Stained glass Windows Coloured stained glass windows are commonly used in Gothic churches. They fill the interior not only with lights but coloured lights. Stained glass windows of St. Denis Basilica.
    17. 20. The stained glass windows at the apse. St Denis Basilica. Stained glass Windows
    18. 21. The stained glass windows. St Denis Basilica. Stained glass Windows
    19. 22. The interior of the church flooded with coloured light. St Denis Basilica. Interior
    20. 23. Rose windows Rose window at the transept, using mainly violet colour. St Denis Basilica.
    21. 24. A small and simple rose window above the main entrance on the western façade. Rose window
    22. 25. The Ambulatory. St Denis Basilica. Interior
    23. 26. Soaring Spire Soaring Spire became fashionable as Gothic style developed. On the left is St Denis Basilica. On the right is the Chartres Cathedral, which is a good example of this for early Gothic churches.
    24. 27. The Royal necropolis The basilica is used as a royal necropolis since the 12C. Some early monarchs including Clovis I (481-511) were buried there. Some 42 kings, 32 queens, 63 princes and princesses were here. The Royal necropolis
    25. 28. Medieval tombs Some of the older royal tombs were moved into the church from the nearby cemetery, including Clovis I (511), who was the first King of the Franks to rule over France. On the top left are the effigies of Clovis II (635-57) and Charles Martel (685-741). The nearest is the effigies of Isalelle d’Aragon with Philippe II le Hard (1245-85) and Philippe IV le Bel (1268-1314) on the right. St Denis Basilica.
    26. 29. 13C tomb The unusual tombs of Blanche (1243) and Jean (1243), prince and princess of Philippe Dagobert (1235). The coffins are wooden and covered with enamelled copper leaf. St. Denis Basilica.
    27. 30. Because of the number royal burials here and the time span it covers, the basilica is also acts as a sculpture museum. This is the Monument of Francois I and Claude de France and three of their children. Francois I reigned from 1515 to 1547. During his reign France witnessed immense cultural changes and he is considered France’s first renaissance king. 16C tomb
    28. 31. 16C tomb Francois I reigned from 1515 to 1547. St Denis Basilica.
    29. 32. The effigy of Claude de France, wife of Francois I. St Denis Basilica. 16C tomb
    30. 33. This is the tomb of Louis XII (1515) and Anne de Bretagne (1514). It was designed to be unprecedented grandeur. On the base the tomb are surrounded by allegorical figures of virtues. 16C tomb
    31. 34. This is the tomb of Louis XII (1515) and Anne de Bretagne (1514). 16C tomb
    32. 35. This is the tomb of Louis XII (1515) and Anne de Bretagne (1514). 16C tomb
    33. 36. This is one of the finest sculpture of the royal tombs. The bronze allegorical figure of Temperance was by Germain Pilon. It is of the sculpture adorning the tomb of Henri II and Catherine of de Medici. 16C tomb
    34. 37. Louis XVI (reign 1774-93) and Marie-Antoinette. Both of them were executed during the French Revolution. St. Denis Basilica. 19C tomb
    35. 38. Louis XVI (reign 1774-93) and Marie-Antoinette bodies were transfer to the church after the revolution. St. Denis Basilica. 19C tomb
    36. 39. The Crypt The crypt beneath the basilica became the Bourbon grave, holding the remains of Louis XVI and Louis XVIII and their queens.
    37. 40. The Crypt Stained glass in the crypt.
    38. 41. Location of the Basilica Cathedral St Denis from centre of Paris.
    39. 42. Music – Au fond du temple saint (duet) from the opera, Pearl Fishers (1863), written by Bizet. It is a story about two Ceylonese fishermen, who renounced their love for a woman and remain friends forever. … All rights reserved. Rights belong to their respective owners. Available free for non-commercial and personal use. The End The north tower was rebuilt in 1837 after struck by lightning. The new tower collapsed in 1845 under its own weight. Architectural Terms