Today’s prompt didn’t particularly interest me or feel like a good fit for this blog, but the additional challenge was to write in a style different from my usual one, which I liked a lot. I like my writing to flow and include lots of description; I never skimp on the words. Therefore, I decided to write a post in a more direct style, with shorter and even incomplete sentences. I used bullet points instead of nice fluid paragraphs.
The Basilica of Saint Denis (Basilique Royale de Saint-Denis)
- Located in Saint Denis, a suburb of Paris.
- Benedictine abbey church
- Original church dates from around 475.
- Gothic rebuild from 1137-1144.
- Church was closely associated with French royalty in their Île-de-France seat of power.
- Architecture meant to glorify French monarchy.
- Early French kings, including Charlemagne, crowned and buried there.
- Later monarchs now rest there as well, including memorials to Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
- Underground crypt contains royal burials.
- Pilgrimage church – shrine to Saint Denis (Saint Dionysius), former Bishop of Paris and patron saint of Paris.
- Abbot Suger (1081-1151) was politically connected and in charge of massive rebuild.
- Still an active church but no longer an abbey, and opened for visits.
- Earliest example of Gothic architecture in France.
- Higher vaults, more open space, less stone than Romanesque churches.
- Open plan with ambulatory connecting chapels around the apse using fan vaulting was revolutionary.
- Pointed arches and ribbed groin vaults, already used in Romanesque period, combined in a new and better way to make innovations possible.
- Bigger and higher stained-glass windows thanks to exterior buttresses.
- More window than wall.
- Airy, light-filled spaces have spiritual associations; meant to provoke religious feeling.
- Predecessor to the soaring vaults and massive windows in later churches like Notre-Dame de Paris, Chartres Cathedral, and Sainte-Chapelle.
- Some elements still in their original Romanesque and earlier design, including west façade.
- Beautiful sculptural work on interior and exterior.
Davies, Penelope J.E. et al. Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition. 7th edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2007. 385-391.
Toman, Rolf ed. & Barbara Borngasser. Churches and Cathedrals: 1700 years of sacred architecture. Bath, England: Parragon Books Ltd., 2008. 85.
Wikipedia. “Basilica of St Denis” on Wikipedia.org. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_St_Denis. Accessed July 2, 2015.