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Cinnaminson, New Jersey
August 5, 2005
For a long time now I have wanted to see Rouen Cathedral, and finally it happened. What impresses you the most here is how stone, plaster, and glass can be made to look light and lace-like, especially the rose window of the east façade. The chapel of the virgin behind the altar is a weird mixture of Gothic and glorious baroque, and on the right, statues of cardinals are praying to the virgin. In the ambulatory, you can see a lot of statues of various kings buried here. Most of the chapels have original gothic stained glass with blue backgrounds, but some are fitted with modern glass, which fits in well. Of most importance is the glass of St Julien l’Hospitalier that consists of 27 scenes. You don’t feel small in this large cathedral with very tall naives and even taller altar dome, as it makes you feel a presence of real master craftsmen. Also, it would have been great to see a king’s coronation and cathedral filled with people. The west façade is partially under restoration, but the part you can see is breathtaking, with two bell towers each with its own character and gothic lace surrounding the rose window in a variety of shapes and forms, ending with small towers as if you were building them out of wet sand. And, of course, there is the metal spire reminiscent of Eiffel Tower above the gorgeous Gothic lace, but somehow even it is not out of place.
Church of St Maclou
In the foreground of the cathedral, you can see the flamboyant Gothic spire of St Maclou. The church suffered serious damage in 1944, and there is barely anything worth seeing inside. However, outside the church is a marvelous example of French flamboyant Gothic with gargoyles and buttresses and gorgeous carved wooden gates. Surrounding the church on both sides are Tudor houses, one of which is Aitre Maclou.
Abbey of St Ouen
Slightly farther down the street is Abbey of St Ouen, a very large building also with Gothic features. This building, like most other churches, is partially under restoration. The abbey is very imposing, but not really remarkable. Attached to it by a Gothic cloister is a large neoclassical building of Hotel de Ville with accurately trimmed bushes in front and a statue of Napoleon in the middle of the square.
From journal Travels in France - Normandy and Picardy
October 27, 2000
I expected to drag my teenage sons kicking and screaming through the cathedral, and you could have knocked me over with a feather when my younger son pointed out the meaning behind the various symbols on sarcophagi in the church. I knew that Richard the Lionhearted's sarcophagus was there--that was the secret I was keeping to entice the kids into the cathedral--but did not know that having one's foot on a lion (or not, or having a dog instead of a lion) meant that you were or were not a crusader, and indicated whether you died in battle or a natural death. So Jeffrey walked out the cathedral pointing out all the crusaders...and I could puzzle out enough of the Latin inscriptions to confirm he was right.
So, for you history buffs, you have Richard and Rollon, and Rollon's son William Longsword, and Richard's brother Robert all represented by the sarcophagi here.
In addition, you have a classic Gothic cathedral which was severely damaged during World War II. Almost all of the stained glass was lost at that time, and in fact on the east side of the nave, all but two flying buttresses were destroyed, and they are all that saved the entire nave from destruction.
From journal Normandy, Joan of Arc, William the Conqueror, & D-