Laon Cathedral

Day 20: Walking into Laon we had a glimpse of what it may have been like being a pilgrim approaching the 12th and 13th Century stone Gothic  Laon Cathedral.

Gothic Masterpiece

Laon Cathedral with its imposing towers and its beautiful Gothic architecture was of great importance as a major stop on the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago in Spain.

Dominating The Landscape

As we were a few miles out from the imposing hill top town we could see it from the surrounding countryside. Even from afar it dominated the landscape.

Entering The City

Approaching from the north we passed wooded areas before making the steep climb to the outer fortified city walls on top of the hill. Skirting the 6 metre high stone walls for some time we entered the narrrow streets lined with old multi-storey buildings.

Awe Struck

As we approached the centre of Laon the towering cathedral came into view. Reaching the cathedral I was awe struck at the cathedral’s facade.

While other pilgrims rested their weary feet in the square’s cafe after a long walk and climb, the mass of stone together with the lofty cliff-like height and the intricately carved portal left me enthralled and unable to take my eyes off it, like a smitten teenager from the object of their affection.

While others rested their weary feet after the long day and climb in a cafe in the square I just couldn’t stop looking at the building. The massive amount of stone and height standing cliff like together with the incredible stone figures and detailing left me feeling like a teenager who had fallen in love and couldn’t keep his eyes off the object of their affections.

Laon Cathedral is the beginning of a long lineage of Gothic architecture which continues with cathedrals in Paris, Chartres, Amiens, and Reims, all influenced by Laon.

Carved Stone Animals

The intricately carved stone animals and figures together with the interior’s relatively simple detailing and grandeur left me understanding what it was like for simple pilgrims to witness such splendour.

 The flying hippopotamus and rhinoceros gargoyles really caught my imagination – can you imagine early pilgrims peering up at what to them would have been strange mythical creatures.

Refuge and Peace

Within the cathedral the coolness was welcoming. There was a pervading sense of peace, of arrival, refuge. Within this echoing cavern with coloured light filtering from the heavenly clerestory surrounded by stone and history we were safe.

The towering heights of the pointed vaults, stain glass windows and hallowed spaciousness would have equally left early pilgrims awe struck.

Laon Cathedral to me was a masterpiece of Gothic architecture that has been my favourite cathedral along the pilgrimage to date. Reims which we visited a few days later didn’t have the same effect on me.


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  • Patsy Woods

    Thank you again. Super photos and obviously raised your spirit by admiring the grandeur of a magnificent Cathedral. More treats on the way.
    Hope Heidi is enjoying your blog..Love to you both.Patsy( and Norman)

    • David Cuschieri

      Hi Patsy and Norman,
      Loan Cathedral really did leave me awe inspired.
      Look forward to sharing more highlights of the journey.
      Hope you are both well and enjoying the English summer.
      Heidi follows the blog and gives me her thoughts.
      She sends her love. Love to you both.

  • Margaret Hunt

    Thank you David. Wow, awe-inspiring indeed. Keep them coming.

    • David Cuschieri

      Thanks Margaret.
      Can’t wait to hear about your trip to Central Australia.

  • Karen McLachlan

    Brilliant photos Dave. I can only imagine how pilgrims felt seeing this Cathedral as I am totally awestruck by the detailed figures and animals and what they must have meant to the people of those times. It’s great to be able to zoom in on your photos to see so much detail that you might otherwise have missed.
    Thanks for sharing luvy.

    • David Cuschieri

      Thanks again Karen for your comments.
      Yes, we can only imagine how pilgrims in medieval times would have experienced walking and seeing this huge edifice of stone.
      Big hugs xx

  • Heidi

    Love seeing the photos hun and being on the adventure with you. Can just imagine what those early pilgrams must have thought about the mythical creatures made by those incredible craftsmen and stonemasons. Could imagine your design brain going into overdrive admiring all the architecture xx I’m going great thank you so much Patsy and Norman, you are too sweet 🙂 Hope you are both really well xx

    • David Cuschieri

      Thanks Gorgeous.
      Wish you were hear with us on the journey.
      Truly am grateful for every moment.
      Those animals at the portal of the cathedral definitely would have captured pilgrims’imaginations.