The Cathedral of Notre-Dame d’Amiens (Our Lady of Amiens) is one of the most beautiful and majestic buildings of the region.
Built in the 13th century, it is the largest cathedral in France and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Having survived through the ages, it has witnessed and survived two world wars.
Amiens with its vast railway network was an important Allied rear base during the First World War. Soldiers of various nationalities visited the town while on leave and would have spent time discovering the superb cathedral, as well as the town’s other attractions of the time.
With the frontline not far away the city tried its best to protect the cathedral from destruction. Sandbags were positioned around the entrances and stacked inside to shield the statues and decorations. Despite this, the cathedral, especially its choir, did receive some minor damage from shellfire during the Battle of Amiens in August 1918.
At the end of the war, plaques were installed on the south pillars in commemoration of the service and sacrifice of many of the Allied nations that served on the Western Front, while the nation’s flags were hung in the Chapel of the Sacred Heart. Out of the eleven memorial plaques erected inside the cathedral, six of them commemorate the British and Dominion troops.
The plaque dedicated to the memory of the Australian forces was unveiled during a service held on 7 November 1920 by the Souvenir Français, a French organisation working to preserve the memory of the war. More than a thousand people were in attendance, including Marshal Ferdinand Foch, former Prime Minister of Australia Andrew Fisher, and an AIF delegation.
Amiens Cathedral is open to the public every day from 8.30am to 6.30pm. Visitors can admire the cathedral’s magnificent statues, paintings and stained-glass windows, and all around the nave, some being 800-years old. Guided tours of the cathedral, its treasures and towers are also available. To find out more, please click here.
With the arrival of summer, the Chroma light show will illuminate the cathedral every evening from 7 July to 17 September, bringing the 750 statues on its façade to life. Admission is free to the cathedral forecourt, but be sure to come early, as the best spots are very popular. For more information on the show and schedule, click here.