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Soissons Cathedral of Saint Gervais and Saint Protais, whose silhouette is more discreet than the imposing nearby abbey of Saint-Jean-des-Vignes, was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and extended up to the 15th century. After being ransacked by the Huguenots in 1567, its bishops and canons took great pains to restore it. Visited by sovereigns, cherished by artists of great repute, in the 17th and 18th centuries it was enriched with sumptuous furnishings, to which altars, railings, woodwork, statues, paintings and fragments of rood-screens still bear witness today. Behind its austere exterior, its very first bays reveal its harmonious architecture and the complex destiny of its decor. Now owned by the State, Soissons Cathedral has been the object of a continuous renovation programme, as can be seen from the stained glass windows which have been constantly restored since the 13th century. When looking at postcards and photos of the cathedral immediately after the First World War, one can only imagine the treasures it has lost and rejoice in the resurrection of its vast stone envelope.
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