8 masterpieces

Amiens Cathedral was built at a time when the first Gothic cathedrals were erected. Seen as Notre-Dame de Paris’ little sister, it was built after the cathedrals in Reims, Bourges or Metz. Considered as the archetype of this art of building during a period seen as “classical” and “radiating”, Amiens Cathedral is highly unusual, as these 8 one of a kind masterpieces testify!

The bronze effigies

Two bronze effigies from the 13th century welcome visitors in the nave of the cathedral. On the south side, one represents Bishop Évrard de Fouilloy, who laid the first stone of the cathedral in 1220. On the north side, his successor, Geoffroy d'Eu, who, between 1222 and 1236, continued the works and saw firsthand the vaults being raised into position. During the Revolution and then the Second World War, these effigies were saved from being melted down; they have become the only testimony remaining in France of this funeral art using bronze cast in one piece.

The spire

Destroyed by lightning in 1528, the original spire of the monument was replaced by a new spire that reaches towards heaven at 112.70 metres from the ground. It remains one of the oldest wooden spires; with its timber framework and lead roof, it is solely resting on the arms of the transept crossing. Its estimated weight is 330 tons.

The Weeping Angel

It’s the year for celebration yet this angel is crying... This is one of the most famous figures of the cathedral. This statue is visible on the funeral monument dedicated to canon Guislain Lucas, benefactor of Amiens orphans. Created in 1936 by local artist Nicolas Blasset, it became famous the world over because of the hundreds of thousands of postcards and other souvenirs that the soldiers from the Commonwealth, going through Amiens, sent to their families or took home as mementos during the First World War.

The Golden Virgin Mary

There are two sculptures of the Golden Virgin Mary in Amiens Cathedral (the original inside the south arm of the transept and its copy on the trumeau of the portal), reminding visitors that the cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Considered by art historians as one of the earliest depictions of the Virgin Mary swaying from her hip, some gentle curves are suggested under her ample clothing, which is a marked difference with the column statues featuring on the portals of cathedrals prior to this construction. Entirely polychrome in the Middle Ages, the Virgin Many was covered in sheets of gold in 1705 and some colourful traces can still be seen. It is an example of the former polychromies of the cathedral.

The polychrome statuary of the western portals

During the Middle Ages, carved decorations in churches and some architectural elements were painted with vibrant colours. The polychromes, rediscovered on the portals of Amiens Cathedral, using for the first time in such a large scale on a monument a laser technique to restore the portals of the western front in the 1990s, reveal the use of vibrant colours as early as the 13th century on all the statues. In particular, up to 26 successive layers of paint are rediscovered on the portal of the Mother of God. These polychromes, still visible for some, caused an international sensation amongst the scientific community and the general public. It is now agreed that Amiens is the birthplace of the partial and reversible method, using a scientific methods, of the restitution of the colours that were chosen to evoke what cathedrals represented.

Every year for the past 21 years, visitors have been able to marvel at the iridescent colours of Amiens Cathedral through the magic of lighting.

The relic of St John the Baptist

Only six objects remain from the original treasury of Amiens Cathedral. The most famous is the skull of St John the Baptist, which contributed to an expansion of the treasury. As soon as the relic was brought back in 1206 from Constantinople by Walon de Sarton, a Picardie canon, it became the object of immense devotion which spread much wider than the city and the diocese of Amiens. Throughout the centuries, leading figures showered the cathedral with gifts and donations. The relic of St John still has the magnificent crystal that has been adorning it since the Middle Ages and that continues to be the subject of intense devotion.

The labyrinth

The labyrinth is in the middle of the nave and is a rare remaining example of such a motif in a cathedral. Rebuilt in 1894 using the original octagonal plan, it is inserted across the entire width of the black and white floor of the monument. Its black line is 234 metres long and leads to a central stone, a copy of the original dating from 1288 which is currently located at the Musée de Picardie. On the central stone, a copper and marble inscription summarises the orientation and chronology of the construction works. There are also white marble statues representing the founding bishop as well as the first three architects of the cathedral. Bishop Évrard de Fouilloy is seen holding a mitre, Robert de Luzarches a measure and Thomas de Cormont a compass. The latter’s son, Renaud, is seen with a phylactery, showing that the major works and the laying of the cathedral's first stone happened under his supervision. The engraved inscription provides more information in a literary form, including the start and end dates of the works as well as the corresponding reigns.

The stalls

Over 4,000 characters carved in oak! An absolute masterpiece of technicity, art and inventiveness leaving visitors breathless as they discover this fascinating 3D graphic novel in the choir of Amiens Cathedral! This exceptional ensemble still contains 110 flamboyant stalls, carved between 1508 and 1522 by local virtuoso sculptors. Scenes from the Old and the New Testament are depicted as well as more popular characters such as a schoolteacher, a lady in her bath and even some fantastic beasts. Come and discover this incredible combination!