Cathedral of Saint-Étienne, North Wall and North Tower of West Facade
Cioffi, Paul L., 1928-2004
The Bourges cathedral, along with that of Chartres, is considered one of the first of the 'high gothic' cathedrals because of its great height, its glass-to-stone ratio and the unified, flowing design of its interior space. The present cathedral was built in two major campaigns, the first from 1195-1214 and the second beginning in 1225 and proceeding until around 1255. The west facade, with its five portals, corresponding to the five divisions of nave and double side aisles inside, was constructed during the second campaign.However, when the 'new' Cathédrale Saint-Étienne was finally dedicated May 13, 1324, its north bell tower (shown in this image) was yet to be built. The "Tour de Beurre" (i.e., Butter Tower, so-called because donors were exempted from their Lenten fasts), was not completed until the 15th C. Then, in 1506 it collapsed, damaging the two north portals as it fell. Although it was not rebuilt until 1542, the tower was reconstructed chiefly in the Flamboyant Gothic style to harmonize with the rest of the church. The south tower began to crack in 1313 and was stabilized by attaching a massive buttress. Still, it was never strong enough to house bells, earning it the epithet "Deaf Tower".In 1992 UNESCO named the Bourges Cathedral of Saint-Étienne, dedicated to St. Stephen (first Christian martyr), a World Heritage Site. ca. August 1981
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