EXTERIOR ARCHITECTURE


The ancient collegiate church of Notre-Dame d'Orcival, built against the eastern side of a hill, is the centre of the village. The area surrounding the building is today clear, which was not the case in the XIXth century.

The adaptation of the church to the terrain is particularly noticeable on the west side : the west end has been built encroaching on the hillside, so that this part of the church is partly below ground level, which deprives it of a western entrance. A huge, almost blind gable wall seems to anchor the building to the slope. This disposition enhances the importance of the southern elevation, by which one reaches the church.

Whereas the nave and west end are usually separate volumes, at Orcival they interpenetrate, at least in the upper parts of the building.

On the south side of the nave, the arcading which runs along the triforium level continues into the southern wall of the west end, and the roof is uninterrupted till the gable of the fašade which is devoid of towers.

The external masses of the chevet are clearly organized into a hierarchy and reflect the interior organization perfectly : a crypt as basement, radiating apsidal chapels opening onto the ambulatory, choir apse standing out from it, the transversal block of the transept, a bell-tower over the crossing. The perfect integration of all these elements into the composition is one of the great architectural triumphs of the XIth and XIIth centuries. Above the crossing of the transept and crowning this transversal block, the tower, unlike others, survived destruction during the revolution, although the wooden spire-originally polygonal-was transformed in the XIXth century.