Heaven on Earth: The Lives and Legacies of the Worl’ds Greatest Cathedrals
A glorious illustrated history of sixteen of the world’s greatest cathedrals, interwoven with the extraordinary stories of the people who built them.
The emergence of the Gothic in twelfth-century France, an architectural style characterized by pointed arches, rib vaults, flying buttresses, large windows and elaborate tracery, triggered an explosion of cathedral-building across western Europe. It is this remarkable flowering of ecclesiastical architecture that forms the central core of Emma Wells’s authoritative but accessible study of the golden age of the cathedral. Prefacing her account with the construction in the sixth century of the Hagia Sophia, the remarkable Christian cathedral of the eastern Roman empire, she goes on to chart the construction of a glittering sequence of iconic structures, including Saint-Denis, Notre-Dame, Canterbury, Chartres, Salisbury, York Minster and Florence’s Duomo.
More than architectural biographies, these are human stories of triumph and tragedy that take the reader from the chaotic atmosphere of the mason’s yard to the cloisters of power. Together, they reveal how 1000 years of cathedral-building shaped modern Europe, and influenced art, culture and society around the world.