Chester Cathedral in England certainly deserves its own post. The most lasting impression I came away with is the sheer size of the cathedral. There must have been a dozen chapels inside, each decorated with exquisite detail. It is a very sacred space, one in which everyone entering immediately falls silent and practically tiptoes around. Beyond that, it is historically and architecturally fascinating.
A church was founded on the cathedral site in 660, and there may have been Druidic and/or Roman temples there long before that date. A church and monastery were eventually built on the site. Remarkably, when Henry VIII was busy sitting around drinking mulled wine by the ton and dissolving churches and monasteries, he chose to allow the monastery in Chester to stay. Apparently in the 1500s, Chester was a much-respected city, even to the crabby Henry VIII. After this, construction of the cathedral began in earnest.
To me, this continuous history is what makes Chester Cathedral so fascinating. It was mind-boggling to walk past a memorial of a vicar from 1970, then a farmer from the 1700s, then someone from 1602.
The different architectural styles were equally engrossing. There’s a section of Russian icons that made me feel at home, an immense organ, tombs with marble figures lying at rest like something out of The Return of the King, a tapestry of the Last Supper, a modern art sculpture of the Nativity, and everywhere, everywhere, the most stunning stained glass windows. I could have looked for days and not taken in everything.
I came out of Chester Cathedral feeling pretty humble.