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Perhaps the finest Gothic cathedral in Switzerland

I assure you that on the trip to Switzerland lately mentioned I did do some things other than visit cathedrals, that wasn’t even all the medievalist things I did, but it certainly did result in the best photos. On this occasion the destination was Lausanne, a short and pleasant trip up the railway line from Geneva through country thick with vines, and the main medieval presence there is the cathedral of Notre Dame. This, the web tells me, is regarded as the finest Gothic cathedral in Switzerland; I don’t know how tough that competition is, but it is pretty lovely. Since Gothic is not my period, however, I have no big historical or museological arguments to make this time. Just, look at it…

Portal of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Grotesques around the portal of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

The portal is heavily ornamented, as you can see, but here at least it’s just a bit less clear what with…

Fathers of the Church looking down from the poirtal of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Of course there is also a running theme of old guys looking sternly religious, not least because since the Wars of Religion this has been a Protestant building

Carving of St Luke as the ox from the portal of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Perhaps the world’s cutest Evangelist

Nave of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

The full length of the nave as seen once inside

The building was, the web tells me, started around 1170, continud till 1215 and then let hang for a while; more work was undertaken in the period after 1225, but the second tower was never put on. Work is still going on, however, so never say never! (Nevers is a different cathedral anyway.)

Modern flying buttresses on the side of the nave of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Very evidently modern buttresses nonetheless fitting in very nicely

Where the oldest fabric is, though, a motif of stripes and twisted-rope effects is very frequent.

Stripy fabric in an archway of the entrance of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Stripy fabric in an archway of the entrance

Chapel of the Virgin, Notre-Dame de Lausanne

The oldest substantial part is the Chapel of the Virgin on the north wall, which is noticeably different in colour and cut of stone, as well as for its stripes, and still has some original painting just about visible on its walls, here being inspected by an Australian Medievalist and a Local Medievalist

Striped fabric in the Chapel of the Virgin, Notre Dame de Lausanne

I have now probably mentioned stripes enough

The stained glass and the sunshine cause occasional irresistible photo opportunities. I’m delighted by how this came out.

Sunlight through stained glass in Notre Dame de Lausanne

Now for some structure!

South aisle of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

South aisle, with Medievalists

Three levels of ornament in the main nave of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Three levels of ornament in the main nave, chapel, gallery and clerestory

A cross hanging in the crossing at Notre-Dame de Lausanne

A cross hanging in the crossing. Where else would it be, after all?

Galleries and vaulting in the dome of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Galleries and vaulting in the dome

Double gallery in the crossing walls of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Close up of the double gallery in the crossing walls

There is a chapel out to one side of the main structure which I want to say was dedicated to the Maccabees, but surely not every angular chapel in a cathedral can be…

Fathers of the Church sculpted in a chapel of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

It too is full of stern old guys looking holy while apparently standing on dogs

Tympanum of side-chapel at Notre-Dame de Lausanne

The typanum over the entrance is worth the price of, er… not going in straight away

And, as one of the shots above implies, you can get into the tower, and this is a good idea even if you don’t, as had we, a solemn gesa laid upon us to climb any stairs that were offered in the name of tourism.

Ornamental staircase top on the tower of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Proper Gothic spikiness viewed close up around the top of the tower, including by those recurrent Medievalists again

Stripy fabric atop the tower of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Even up here there are still sometimes stripes, which takes some explaining I can’t do

Bell in the tower of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

There is a bell up here. It is possible, though obviously illegal, to ring it. Don’t ask how I know.

View of Lausanne from the tower of Notre Dame cathedral

View of the city below, part one

View of Lausanne from the tower of Notre Dame cathedral

… and part two

Lac Léman seen from the tower of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Looking out over Lake Geneva (Lac Léman to its friends)

As you can see, it is firstly well worth the visit and secondly quite large. So let me close with a small thing, just to prevent my photos being basically the same as any on Wikimedia Commons already…

Episcopal arms carved into a wall in the older part of Notre-Dame de Lausanne

Crest of the bishop carved into a wall in the older part of the cathedral

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5 responses to “Perhaps the finest Gothic cathedral in Switzerland

  1. Great photos. I like the wild boar looking through the bodiless legs.

  2. highlyeccentric

    It’s not illegal, its against regulations. That’s different. Although possibly even more important to the Swiss.

    Also lac léman would like its accent acute back if you wish to be friends.

  3. Reblogged this on Wyrdwend and commented:
    Magnificent!

  4. Pingback: Perhaps the most castly castle ever | A Corner of Tenth-Century Europe

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