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The World's Greatest Churches

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When I discovered Malcolm Miller would not be available to give a tour when we visit Chartres, I sought alternatives. I provide the following in case it will be of help for those looking for a pre-trip guide to various churches that figure on many people's bucket list of sights to see.

https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/worlds-greatest-churches.html

I found this set of 4 DVDs, by Professor William R Cook of SUNY Genesco. His bio: he is distinguished teaching professor of History Emeritus, having tought for 42 years. MA and PhD from Cornell. If this sounds intimidating don't be, he has an easy style of talking, laced with some humour. In short, he's not dry.

The great courses series has received favourable reviews from Harvard magazine, the LA times, and the WSJ.

Okay, so I'll give an overview. I picked up the set at our local library intending only to watch the episode on Chartres. I found it so good, that we have been watching, in order of our own personal interest, various selections of the other discs.

The greatest churches series is a set of 4 DVDs, each comprising 6 lectures. So that's 24 in all.

Disc one's first six lectures consist of the earliest churches, including Cook's opinion as to why, if he had to choose only one church, he'd pick Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (notwithstanding it is now a museum, not an active church.) Disc one also features the rock hewn churches of Cappadocia.
If I never get to Turkey, I will be glad to have seen these episodes.

Disc two's lectures include those on churches in Armenia, Georgia, Norway, etc - the idea is to help one understand what similarities there are, versus what differences, in church architecture.

Disc three is where one finds episode/lecture 14, on Chartres. Cook explains why Chartres is held by most scholars to be THE best example of Gothic style architecture. The subsequent lecture 15 has him explain why, of all the churches in England he could have chosen, he settled on Winchester. Disc 3 is also where you'll find lectures on the cathedral of Siena, St Peter's basilica, the Cathedrale of Monreale (Sicily) and the Wieskirche in Bavaria.

I doubt we'll have time to see much of disc four, which is where he explores the American churches (St. Patrick's, etc.) and la Sagrada Familia.

Finally: there is a small 'study guide' that accompanies the discs, with some questions to think about.

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