Sunday, May 4, 2014

Notre Dame de Paris

Construction of Notre Dame de Paris began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII. It was completed in 1345 and utilized four architects. We were there during the celebration of it's 850th year since the start of construction. 

To say that the cathedral is massive and ornate is simply an understatement. It is hard to find words to describe what stands before you. One of the things that was most impressive was the fact that construction took place over 182 years with generations of architects and builders and yet the cathedral appears seamless. If you look closely you can see some of the construction differences in the finish of the stones and details, but the overall effect is astounding.

The entrance or west facade is filled with carved detail and massive amounts of statuary. What struck me most was the fact that although Notre Dame is named for Our Lady of Paris, there is only one smallish statue of Mary above the entrance and two which also appear to be female. All the remaining statues are men.

Moving around to the South side the scope of this architectural feat becomes apparent. The building is massive and the detail so intricate it is difficult to imagine the design process for each and every element.

I was especially fascinated by the narrow spire and the saints climbing up to it.

The iconic flying buttresses are also quite fascinating. They were not a part of the original design, but added later due to cracking beginning in the walls because of their thinner design and massive size. I marvel at the ingenuity of those architects.

This was also a good spot to get an exterior view of the Rose Window.

Finishing our walk around the exterior took us to the beautiful garden at the rear on the cathedral. I found another statue of Mary there.

Fortunately, non-flash photography is allowed inside of Notre Dame. The conditions are not the best for it, but I did manage to get some interesting shots. We were there during Holy Week and so the altar was set for the holiday.

The stained glass work is beautiful. A photograph cannot adequately show the immense size and detail of each of these windows.

Statuary and wood carvings are everywhere you look. The entire outer walls are lined with "small" chapels and side altars any of which could be the centerpiece for a beautiful church.

While the organ is very large. It has 7,374 pipes, 900 of which are historical. It is so massive that there is no good spot to photograph it all. 

Looking at the baptismal font one can only imagine the power and influence of those who were baptized here.

And just looking up into that vaulted ceiling can fill you with wonder.

The cathedral treasury is notable for its reliquary which houses many of the Catholic Church's first class relics. A small museum is tucked within displaying some of these treasures.

There are artifacts from the cardinals and even a robe made for the Emperor in 1856.

There is much more to tour in Notre Dame, but we are saving that for our next visit. One more tick on our bucket list.

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