France Puts Its Historic Bayeux Tapestry Online for Virtual Viewing
See every single thread in new detail — from home.
France's famed Bayeux Tapestry, which has been off-limits to viewers in Normandy since the start of the pandemic, has gone digital.
Thanks to high-definition cameras, it's now possible to see the historic tapestries in even closer detail than you could have in real life pre-pandemic. Online visitors can zoom into the fabric and see its images, down to a single thread.
The tapestry is believed to have been woven in the 11th century. It depicts the tale of William, Duke of Normandy, who became the King of England after the Norman invasion and the Battle of Hastings.
Known for its, sometimes bloody, attention to detail, the tapestry is an intricate work of embroidery. The wool thread on linen cloth comprises both pictures and text, made of nine panels joined together. The entire tapestry stretches more than 220 feet across and depicts more than 600 characters including kings, soldiers, bishops, and their horses.
Remarkably, the original colors of the tapestry have changed very little over the past almost-1,000 years. But the restorations done in the 19th century have badly faded, almost becoming white in certain sections. A restoration is planned for 2024 to fix the tapestry's wear and tear.
The tapestry was rediscovered by scholars in 1729, hanging in the Bayeux Cathedral. It has been displayed at its own museum in Bayeux since 1983. And now, in 2021, it's available for the world to view online.
Once you've scrolled through each thread of the tapestry, there are plenty of other famed cultural artifacts to view online while you can't see the real thing in person just yet.
Last year, many museums around the world went online, offering free virtual tours of their collections. From New York City to China, you can peruse the best of world heritage from the comfort of your home.