Laon Cathedral: Exterior context view of west facade with surrounding shops and houses
The west façade of the cathedral is a rich construction of arches, gables, portals, porches, pinnacles, windows, sculpture and towers, crossed by interior and exterior passages and framed by three deep arches at the top between the tower buttresses. There is a large rose window.
The cathedral of Notre-Dame is a classic example of Early Gothic architecture in France. Its five completed towers dominate the modern town. The earliest mention of a cathedral at Laon is in a poem by Alcuin of York (735-804). This structure was replaced by the present church. Laon Cathedral was accomplished in five major building campaigns. The central focus of the architectural space of Laon Cathedral is the lantern tower over the square crossing bay, from which open the four arms of the building. The nave has 12 bays. The Chapelle des Fonts, cloister and chapter house were completed in the early 13th century. It was a major stop on the medieval pilgrimage route to Santiago in Spain.