12 April 2013 - NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL - Paris, France



- Paris, France -

G'day guys,

Here is another place I have haunted over the years - Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. 
The Notre Dame Cathedral Paris or Notre Dame de Paris ('Our Lady of Paris' in French) is a Gothic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France, with its main entrance to the west. It is the cathedral of the Catholic archdiocese of Paris: that is, it is the church that contains the "cathedra", or official chair, of the Archbishop of Paris, Andre Cardinal Vingt-Trois.  

Notre Dame Cathedral is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture in the world. It was restored and saved from destruction by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, one of France's most famous architects. The name Notre Dame means "Our Lady" in French, and is frequently used in the names of Catholic church buildings in Francophone countries.

The Notre Dame Cathedral was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, unlike that of earlier Romanesque architecture.

The Notre Dame Cathedral Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave. After the construction began and the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic style) grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. In response, the cathedral's architects built supports around the outside walls, and later additions continued the pattern.

The cathedral suffered desecration during the radical phase of the French Revolution in the 1790s, when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. During the 19th century, an extensive restoration project was completed, returning the cathedral to its previous state.

The site of the Notre dame is the cradle of Paris and has always been the religious center of the city. The Celts had their sacred ground here, the Romans built a temple to worship Jupiter. A Christian basilica was built in the 6th century and the last religious structure before the Notre-Dame construction started was a Romanesque church.

 Bishop Maurice de Sully started the construction in 1163. The Cathedral was to be built in the new gothic style and had to reflect Paris's status as the capital of the Kingdom France. It was the first cathedral built on a monumental scale and became the prototype for future cathedrals in France, like the cathedrals of Amiens, Chartres or Rheims, just to name the most famous.

It took until 1345 before the cathedral was completed, partly because the design was enlarged during construction. The result is an overwhelming building, 128m long (420 ft) with two 69 meter tall towers (226 ft). The spire, which reaches 90m (295 ft), was added in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc. The Notre-Dame Cathedral has several large rose windows, the northern 13th century window is the most impressive. The massive window has a diameter of 13.1 meter.

 The frontal west facade features 3 wide portals; above the portals is the Gallery of Kings - 28 statues of Judean Kings - and higher up are the famous gargoyles and grotesques. The spectacular eastern flying buttresses at the east side of the building are 15m wide.

During the Revolution, many of the cathedral's sculptures, gargoyles and interior were removed or demolished. Even the gallery of Kings was severely damaged.

It wasn't until the 19th century before the Cathedral was fully restored thanks in part to the writer Victor Hugo, who with his book 'Notre-Dame de Paris', made the Parisians realise the cathedral was worth restoring. The 20 year long restoration was led by a local architect, Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. Viollet-le-Duc made drastic, controversial modifications to the building and even added a spire. The cathedral was restored again between 1991 and 2001, this time the historic architecture was carefully preserved.

Clancy's comment: Mm ... amazing to see structures like this. Many times, I just sat and stared from all angles, knowing how old it was - wondering how it was built, who built it and why it was still standing

I'm ...