Category Archives: Eleventh-Century

Seventy

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The South Aisle

Eleventh-Twelfth Century
Notre-Dame-La-Grande, Poitiers

Nothing prepares you for entering Notre-Dame-La-Grande; certainly not the milky white facade that glows pure and brilliant, for it is colour that strikes within this church. Instead of the overwhelming stone one might expect, towering grey and piled high, Poitiers’ Notre-Dame retains its historical colour and design. It is remarkable that such artwork has survived, incredible to see such decoration, contrasting to most other church interiors where colour lurks only in peeling shadows in the corners. Here, colour is overwhelming, cloaking the magnificent pillars that line the nave; standing in bright circles around the chancel. Almost comically colourful, stone is covered with patterned shapes – all diamonds and harlequins – more reminiscent of tales of medieval courts than religious order. Jester-like, these pillars define our perspective as we peer down each aisle, illuminating the cavernous interior with colour that stretches to the vaults of the ceiling. Topping the chancel’s pillars are animals, fantastical creatures clinging as capitals, only encouraging the playful atmosphere of decoration. Brightly individual and astounding in its age and historical intrigue, the Notre-Dame of Poitiers is worth a special visit.

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