The Cathedral Spire, I guess you looked at it and moved on.....
Just another Spire?
Take another look............
I really think this is one of the nicest.
It is not the original Spire, that one was removed in 1792. During restoration of the cathedral, it was decided to build a second spire whose structure would be independent from the main cathedral. So, in 1860, work began on the Spire, using a two story Spire built in Orleans as a model.
What I liked and had never seen before elsewhere, were the copper statues of the twelve Apostles with the symbols of the four Evangelists. The renovator, Viollet-le-Duc represents himself as Saint Thomas holding a square.
And............At the tip-top of the Spire is a Rooster who holds three relics -
Part of the Crown of Thorns, one of Saint Denis’s relics and one of Sainte Genevieve’s relics. It also protects the Cathedral from lightning strikes.
Gargoyles and Chimera's, are they the same thing?
I love both, and Notre Dame Cathedral has quite a few of both. The Gargoyles have an important use. They were built into the ends of the gutters to drain rainwater off the roof. They extend such a long way so as to prevent damage to walls. Fascinating! Does that mean we don't stand near one on a wet day?
The chimeras are interesting decorations, most look quite fearsome! You will see them seated on a gallery. Are they watching us, it certainly looks like it!
The sculptor's really had a good imagination. They built animal and human figures, half-man and half-beast, half human-half bird, Lions claws or just plain grotesque, I love them all!
If you do the Cathedral tower tour, you can see them up close.
Still more to take in when viewing the west facade. All three portals have lovely wooden doors, still complete with 13th-century wrought iron work. It is on either side of these doors, where I find 9 full-size statues.
Starting with the "Portal of the Virgin," the statues are.........
L-R - Emperor Constantine, an Angel, Saint Denis holding his head, and another Angel. In the centre piece, is the Virgin with child, and then on the right side is Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve and Pope Saint Sylvester
Saint Denis, Saint Genevieve and Saint Marcel are the patron saints of Paris.
PHOTO'S 1 & 2
Beside the doors on the "Portal of the Last Judgement," the statues are......
L-R Bartholomew, Simon, James the Less, Andrew, John and Peter. In the centre, Christ is standing on a pedestal teaching, and on the right, Paul, James, son of Zebedee, Thomas, Philip, Jude and Matthew. At the twelve apostles feet, there are medallions representing the virtues and their corresponding vices, a theme that is also found in the west rose window.
PHOTO'S 3& 4
"The Portal of St. Anne" are the last sculptures I look at beside the doors.
These statues are of ...
L-R a King, the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon and Saint Peter. In the centre is Saint Marcel, a 5th century Parisian bishop who defeated a dragon. symbolising the suffering his diocese was cursed with. To the right is Saint Paul, King David, Bathsheba and another King.
I have run out of room for both photos, so the one displayed is of the Right hand side.
The final portal on the west facade of Notre Dame Cathedral is of Saint Anne. It was the first installed, around 1200.
In its centre, and in Romanesque style, is the Virgin with Child, seated under a canopy and on a throne, bearing a crown and a sceptre and holding her Son. She appears to be showing us the Child who is blessing and encouraging us to enter the Cathedral for reflection and prayers.
An Angel stands each side of the Throne, a Bishop and the King of France.
Above the tympanum, is the heavenly court, containing Angels, Kings, Prophets and Elders of the Apocalypse
The two lintels above the tympanum tell the story of the marriage of Joachim and Anne and the marriage of Mary and Joseph, scenes from Christ’s arrival on earth, from the Annunciation to the Epiphany.
The Portal of the Virgin is on the left side of the west façade of Notre Dame Cathedral.
It was built between 1210 -1220, after the Portal of Saint Anne, but slightly earlier than the Portal of the Last Judgement.
Another gorgeous portal, this time depicting the death of Mary, her ascension into Heaven and her coronation as Queen of the Heavens. You can see three prophets on the left and three Old Testament kings on the right. Above, is Mary lying on her death bed, surrounded by Jesus and the twelve Apostles with two Angels at her head and feet, lifting up her shroud and taking her to Heaven.
The central tympanum shows Mary in Heaven and seated on the same throne as Jesus. She is being crowned by an angel while Jesus blesses her and gives her her sceptre. She is made Queen of Heaven in front of the Heavenly Court made up of angels, patriarchs, kings and prophets.
This is located on the central portal of the west facade on Notre Dame Cathedral. It represents the Last Judgement as described in the Gospel of Saint Matthew.
Before or after visiting the Cathedral, do have a look at these wonderful portals, in my opinion, some of the best work you will ever see.
When viewing the Portal, through all the tiny and larger sculptures, you will follow the Last Judgement, from the lower lintel, where the dead are being resuscitated from their tombs, onto the next level, where archangel Michael is weighing their souls according to the lives they led on earth and the love they showed to God and to men. The chosen ones are led towards Heaven (to Christ’s right) and the condemned are lead to the right, to hell, by a devil.
On the tympanum, is Christ showing us the wounds he received . The Angels next to him are holding the spear and the nails of the Cross, and one is holding the Cross itself. Jesus is believed to be asking us to Trust him, and to believe that everything is possible for us. Mary and John the Baptist, are seen here as they were on the day of His crucifixion, with Mary at his right and John at his left.
Surrounding this, are the Heavenly Court angels, patriarchs, prophets, Church doctors, martyrs and virgins. HELL, is given a very small area!
Its a must to take your time in the Cathedral to seek out interesting objects.
Choir stalls are often beautifully carved, here is not the case. It is a series of high reliefs in stone, gilt and painted from the 14th century located above the stalls that steal the show!
Beginning on the northern side of the choir, this entire relief displays the scenes of Christ's life, from the Annunciation through to his death. The series is continued on the southern side of the choir, these were done at a later date.
As a lover of stained glass windows, I would have to say this Cathedral has some of the best.
Most of the windows date from the 13th century when the cathedral was constructed.
The set of three beautiful rose windows are a must see.
The West Rose dates from about 1220, and tells the story of human life, featuring symbolic scenes such as the Zodiacs and Labors of the Months.
The South Rose was donated by King St. Louis in 1260. It features the New Testament, the Triumph of Christ, and the symbolic number four.
The north rose window dates from 1250 and its main theme is the Old Testament, but the central medallion depicts the Virgin and Child. This is what my photo is of.
Other beautiful windows were in the Cloister. These windows represent the Legend of Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris. Each window is accompanied by a Latin inscription.
All are beautiful!
When I got the first opportunity to visit Western Europe and select between European capitals in this visit - I choose Paris. There were a plenty of reasons for that my choise - historical, cultural and human... And I never was sorry for that my choise.
I was fortunate to visit Paris three times. The first - in summer of 1995 while touring France with a guide tour. The second - in November of 1995 when was there on a week business trip. The third - in September of 2003 with Irina and our dog Asslan on the way from SV BSZS in Ulm to WM FCI in Wawre.
Unfortunately I haven't been there since 2003. There is a proverb "The world is too large to visit one place twice" . But I dream to come back to Paris in the fourth time for more close study and get deeper admiration.
You can watch my 2 min 27 sec Video Along Paris by car part 1 out of my Youtube channel or here on VT.
The sculptures on the front of the Notre Dame tell many religious stories, and can often show you the stereotypes and beliefs of the past. My tour guide told me of a few of the stories that some of these sculptures tell.
In the main picture, this sculpture portrays Sinagoga, and also a Jewish person by past stereotype. She has a helmet covering her eyes, showing how the Catholics thought the Jewish religion was blind. A snake is in front of her eyes and around her heart, representing evil. Her crown is at her feet. As you can tell, Christians were very hostile towards the Jewish religion.
In the third picture, you can see the Last Judgement. Michael is weighing the souls of countless people, while the devil is waiting to see the outcome. Above that is the Heavenly Court. Below that, you can see the dead being brought back from their tombs.
At the nave of Notre Dame, one cannot but be impressed by the giant rose window of Rose Nord.
This 13th century stained glass brilliantly lighted from outside lights have figures from biblical stories. Standing under this wonderful work of art is a truly unforgettable experience to cherish forever.
visit Notre Dame (métro : Cité or Chatelet)
Other pages present very well the cathedral.
Do not forget to give a glimpse at the Archealogical Crypt which is on the Place, in front of Notre Dame. Digging here to build an underground parking the workers discovered the remains of the Medieval Paris. A tight network of narrow streets surrounded the Cathedral. They were destroyed during the Second Empire.
In the crypt, you can see the restored ruines of houses and streets with stairs and heatings. A trace of our far past.
- More about the Crypt : see the travelogue.
Fondest memory: The photograph is taken from the Ile Saint Louis (see the travelogue dedicated to the less known Sister of the City Island)
Favorite thing: I love the endless array of Gargoyles in Paris. I have never been here when it has rained hard so have not seen the Gargoyles spewing water as their use intended them to do. They line many of the old buildings but none are probably as famous as those on Notre Dame.
Favorite thing: Well, this is not one of my favorite things. But I don't know where to post it. If you need a toilet around the Notre Dame area, go to the gardens that are located next to Notre Dame. At the entrance/exit that is on the side of rue du Cloitre de Notre Dame, there is a set of toilets with an attendant sitting in a booth. You use the toilet first and then as you exit give the attendant about .40 eurocents.
Again the outside church wasnt to my expectation, i thought its gonna be a huge church like St.Paul, London or St.Peter, Rome.
Outside entrance is always a long queue. To avoid having this queue always go early.