Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims

Department of Marne, Champagne Ardenne Region
N49 15 12 E4 1 58
Date of Inscription: 1991
Criteria: (i)(ii)(vi)
Property : 4.16 ha
Ref: 601
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The outstanding handling of new architectural techniques in the 13th century, and the harmonious marriage of sculptural decoration with architecture, has made Notre-Dame in Reims one of the masterpieces of Gothic art. The former abbey still has its beautiful 9th-century nave, in which lie the remains of Archbishop St Rémi (440–533), who instituted the Holy Anointing of the kings of France. The former archiepiscopal palace known as the Tau Palace, which played an important role in religious ceremonies, was almost entirely rebuilt in the 17th century.

Located in the Grand Est region, in the Marne Department, the Cathedral, the Palace of Tau and the Abbey of Saint-Rémi of Reims are closely linked to the history of the French monarchy, and hence, more generally, to the history of France.

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame is a masterpiece of Gothic art: it bears witness to the remarkable mastery of the new architectural techniques acquired in the course of the 13th century, and achieves a harmonious marriage of architecture with sculpted decoration. The perfection of the cathedral’s architecture and group of sculptures is so great that it influenced many later buildings, particularly in Germany. More than just a decoration, the sculptures of Reims Cathedral are an integral part of the architectural composition of the building. Reflecting both the traditions of Île-de-France and the minor arts of the Champagne region, these sculptures have a monumentality and grace inspired by the art of goldsmiths who worked silver or gold. The smiling faces of the western facade, the magnificence of the composition of the Coronation of the Virgin (above the central portal), or the grave nobility of other figures like that of Elizabeth in the scene depicting the Visitation have attained universal celebrity. The original well-balanced harmony has been preserved as has the wealth of ornamentation, carvings and stained glass, an evident testimony to the twenty-five royal coronations that took place there.

The Palace of Tau adjoining the cathedral, once residence of the archbishop, holds the memory of the coronation ceremony.  The king, exercising his right of lodging, prayed in the Palatine Chapel, slept in the palace, and feasted after his coronation in the banquet hall. The beautiful 13th century Palatine Chapel and the 15th century banquet hall have remained intact.  The façade of the Palace of Tau boasts a beautiful 17th century order, and it currently houses the Musée de l’Oeuvre where treasures and artwork linked to the coronation ceremonies are displayed.

The former Royal Benedictine Abbey of Saint-Rémi, founded in the 8th century, features a majestic 18th century architecture, with a chapter house still containing fine Romanesque sculptures.

The abbey, a pilgrimage church built around the tomb of Saint Remi, is an outstanding example of medieval architecture: it was the largest Romanesque building in northern France before being transformed with spectacular sobriety during the Gothic era. It was closely involved in the ritual of the coronations: the ceremonies began and ended at the abbey, conservatory of the Holy Ampulla containing the chrism dating back to the baptism of Clovis by Bishop Rémi and used for the coronation of kings. The abbey is now a museum of heritage and history of Reims and its region.

Criterion (i): The Cathedral of Notre-Dame of Reims is a masterpiece of Gothic art due to the outstanding handling of new architectural techniques in the 13th century and the harmonious marriage of architecture and sculptured ornamentation.

Criterion (ii): The perfection of the architecture and sculptural work of these buildings had a strong influence on later buildings in Europe.

Criterion (vi): The cathedral, the archiepiscopal palace and the former Abbey of Saint-Rémi are directly linked to the history of the French monarchy and hence the history of France. These places involved in the coronation ceremony recall the balance between public authority and sacred function that has made French royalty a political model throughout Europe.

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Reims (sometimes spelled Rheims in English), a city in northern France, is perhaps best known for its world heritage listed cathedral, where generations of French kings were crowned. It is also the largest city in the Champagne area and some the champagne cellars located in the city are likewise inscribed on the world heritage list. Reims, the home of champagne (the most celebrated and celebratory wine in the world), is the main city of the Champagne area. Though it is somewhat hiding in Paris’ shadow and does not immediately come to mind when people think of France, it is a charming city, and one that the French hold dear to their hearts. The Reims Cathedral, one of the most beautiful buildings of the European Middle Ages, is filled with history: almost all French kings were crowned there for about 1,000 years. However, most of the city’s old houses were destroyed during World War I, and the city was extensively rebuilt in the 1920s in an Art Deco style [read more].

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Paris, the cosmopolitan capital of France, is one of the largest agglomerations in Europe, with 2.2 million people living in the dense (105 km2) central city, 7 million people in the Métropole du Grand Paris (814 km2) and almost 12 million people living in the metropolitan area. In the centre-north of the country on the river Seine, Paris has the reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic of all cities, brimming with historic associations and remaining vastly influential in the realms of culture, art, fashion, food and design. Dubbed the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it is home to some of the world’s finest and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint-Laurent, Guerlain, Lancôme, L’Oréal, and Clarins. A large part of the city, including the banks of the Seine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city has the second highest number of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world (after Tokyo, which is much larger) and contains numerous iconic landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame de Paris, the Louvre, the Moulin Rouge and the Basilique du Sacré Cœur, making it one of the most popular international tourist destinations in the world, with around 14 million tourists annually [read more].

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