Cathedral Notre Dame De Reims

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Cathedral Notre Dame De Reims
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51100 Reims, France
Voice: 03 26 47 81 79

There has been a cathedral in Reims since about 400 AD. The current building (called Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims) was started in 1211. The cathedral was bombed and burnt down during World War One. It took 20 years to rebuild, opening again in 1937. In 1962 the French president Charles de Gaulle and the German chancellor Konrad Adenauer attended a service here as a symbol of peace and reconciliation between the French and German people (there is a plaque on the floor which commemorates this event). Pope John-Paul the Second visited in 1996, about 1500 years after the baptism of Clovis.

Next to the cathedral is the Palais du Tau - this was the palace in which kings would prepare for their coronations in Reims Cathedral, and also where they would celebrate afterwards by having a banquet. Visitors can see some of the original statues from the cathedral, items connected with the coronations, and a set of ancient tapestries. Guided tours start from here for both the Palais du Tau and the towers of the cathedral. The Tourist Information Centre is located next to the cathedral.

Starting in 1337 there was a long war between England and France called the Hundred Years War. Following an English victory at Agincourt in 1415, a large part of northern France was under English control. A young peasant girl known as Joan of Arc (or Jeanne d'Arc in French) claimed that she had seen visions from God, telling her that she must drive the English out of her homeland and help Charles the Seventh to be crowned as king of France. Charles was impressed by her passion and belief, so he sent the young woman to lead an army to Orleans, which was under siege by the English. After only nine days the siege had been lifted. The French soldiers, inspired by Joan of Arc, quickly won several more victories and forced the English to retreat. In 1429 Charles the Seventh was crowned king at Reims Cathedral, in the presence of Joan of Arc. After this great success Joan of Arc continued to fight, but two years later she was captured and handed over to the English authorities. She was taken to Rouen in northern France, where she was put on trial and found guilty of heresy (a crime against the Church). The punishment for this crime was to be tied to a wooden stake and burnt alive (she was still only 19 years old when she died). To the French people she was a great heroine and a martyr (because she had died for her belief). In 1920 the Catholic Church made her a saint.

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