Église Saint Jacques, Reims
One of the oldest surviving churches in Reims, Église Saint-Jacques is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Its construction began around 1190 and continued until 1270. Some remodelling occurred during the Renaissance period, while the spire was rebuilt in the 18th century after the original was destroyed in a storm. Unfortunately, Eglise Saint-Jacques was partially destroyed in WWI, but it was subsequently rebuilt according to its pre-war form. Its bell tower, however, was not reconstructed until 1994.
Built on a latin cross plan with three aisles, the interior of Eglise Saint-Jacques contains a mix of Gothic styles from various periods. Although much of the interior was completed by 1270, some modifications occurred in later periods. In 1548, the choir and its side chapels were remodelled in an interesting mix of Flamboyant Gothic and Renaissance styles, with Corinthian columns supporting a rib vaulted ceiling. Although large sections of the interior were rebuilt after the destruction caused by WWI bombings, the church has conserved much of its original look. Its stained glass windows, however, were replaced with beautiful contemporary designs created in the 1960s and 1970s by the artists Joseph Sima and Maria Elena Vieira Da Silva. The splendid new designs complement the Gothic architecture and have a mesmerising effect, particularly in the apse and its adjacent chapels (see photos).