789. The Cathedrals of Europe

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen, Normandy, Rouen, France

Was there really any particular reason to put this church first?? Nope, other than I was getting into the story of Joan of Arc recently and wondering just what all the hullabaloo was all about and why did the Normand-ites wanna burn a 19 year old teen at the stake? Well they did it in Rouen France and not in front of this cathedral but quite possibly in front of the next one…

The Catholic Church of St Joan of Arc, Rouen, Normandy, France

I mean there was a teenage girl burned alive at the stake by the English who were looking to take over some French land so they could grown wine, make great art, and whatnot. Joan of Arc was a teenage badass. For some odd reason she had this gift to organize and train French peasants and the landed gentry to fight against the English invaders in the 1400’s. What were the English doing traipsing around the French Normandy countryside you may well ask? Well who really knows in the 1400’s… I’m sure they had their reasons. Probably searching for the Holy Grail and all. You know how they do what they do.

Joan of Arc was tied to a stake and burnt to death on May 30, 1431, when she was just nineteen years old. It was only a year earlier that she had been captured by the English she had been fighting against, and only a year before that when she had begun her military campaign against them.

She was fighting on behalf of the son of the dead French King Charles VI, who had had his throne stolen from him.

The English who were controlling parts of French territory wanted to make an example of her and her execution happened in the Old Market Square of Rouen and was also watched by church officials and a large crowd of spectators.

Standing in the square today, the first thing you notice is the modern church that has been built in her honour. The Church of St Joan of Arc almost seems slightly out of place with its 1970s architecture, but its relevance gives it justification.

The roof is supposed to represent the flames that killed her and the sweeping curves symbolise an overturned longship. Go inside and the highlight is clearly the enormous stained-glass windows which were originally from a nearby 16th century church that is now in ruins.

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain

This might be my second fave cathedral in Europe which is saying a lot because that continent is practically littered with these things. There must have been some heavy tithing going on back in the day…. and even today as this Cathedral is STILL a work in progress. I’ll bet the project managers have been fired a few times since construction began. Neo-gothic and Anton Gaudi is the name of the game here in Barcelona. Just check it!!

Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy

Big ass door is the name of the game here in Florence Italy. Size does matter. Just ask the Italians and they’ll tell you. Check it!!!

Basilica San Marco, Venice, Italy

And also check it after you grow world weary at traipsing around a romantic amusement park of a place that is swamp-like sinking back into the ocean. Like I said just check it!!

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Paris, France

I’ve ran out of my words today for some reason this fine rainy Boise morn. We’ll have to make this a multi-Day posting with Vol. I, II, & III because the cathedrals there are just so great. The beautiful burned lady of Paris overseeing the mucky waters of the Seine River. Notre Dame. Check it!! Good things.

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