NOTRE DAME: THE STRIKING SYMBOL OF FRANCE
Notre Dame, most famous among the Gothic Cathedrals brings its light in the heart of France, Paris. It is known for its size, antiquity and distinctive architectural features.
Notre Dame de Paris is the full name of this cathedral, which in French means ‘Our Lady of Paris’.
This landmark of Paris, known for its architectural beauty, began to take shape in 1160 and it took over 182 years to complete its construction. It was titled as the tallest structure in Paris until the construction of The Eiffel Tower in 1889.
Notre Dame Paris was built as a center to celebrate the culture of the French people, and thus, resulted into a big monumental structure.
AN ARCHITECTURAL JEWEL:
Notre Dame stands to be one of the finest examples of richness. The building is renowned for the naturalism of Gothic sculptures and its stained glass art. One cannot stop gazing at the beauty and the minute details of the masterpiece.
- Notre Dame Cathedral, known as the largest religious building in the world, is 130 meters (425 feet) long, 48 meters (157 feet) wide and 35 meters (114 feet) high. It reaches up to 69 meters, (226 feet) including the tower.
- The building consists of a choir and apse, a short transept, and a nave, surrounded by double aisles and square chapels.
- Two distinctive features of the marvelous building are its flying buttresses and gargoyles.
- The roof of the Cathedral is made up of wood which is surprising for such a huge structure. The timber frame consists of wood from 1300 trees, each beam made out of one tree. The roof structure is known as ‘The Forest’ due to its massive dimensions.
- The cathedral follows the ‘Golden Ratio’ which brings the building to perfection. The overall building, as well as the decorative details, everything follows the magical ratio.
- The front of the Cathedral is framed by two tall towers. Between these two towers, a spire stands which rises from the transept.
- Between the two towers, there is a lead roof water reservoir that provides water during fire fighting.
The mind-blowing elements of the Cathedral, mainly long halls, and vaulted ceilings offer humanity and divinity. Soft light enters the interiors via the complex windows, whose beauty is adorned by the visitors.
THE TOWERS OF THE CATHEDRAL:
The two famous bell towers of the building increase the Cathedral’s height up to 69 meters (226 feet). Located on the North and South side, the building’s towers are very impressive. To enjoy the incredible view of the whole city from these towers, you have to climb 400 stairs. The top of the towers is rich, with statues of scary carrion birds and intimidating demons. The South tower accommodates the large bell of 13 tonnes.
Notre Dame’s iconic facade depicts the exotic touch of craftsmanship and stone sculptures. It is so fascinating that it is nowhere close to present-day architecture.
- There are three doorways on the western facade leading to the inside of the Cathedral. The main entrance is sculpted with saints and sacred scenes. The three portals have their own significance and the exterior walls are full of statues.
- The famous two towers of the Cathedral are known to be identical but actually they are not. One tower is a bit bigger than the other.
- Marvelous “Rose window” holds the statues of God’s first human creatures, ‘Adam and Eve’. The diameter of the window is 10 meters (32.8 feet).
- ‘Grande Galerie’ serves as the connection between the two towers and is adorned with images of violent demons and birds.
- Famous Gothic elements in the Cathedral gargoyles and chimeras made up of stone are not as old as the Cathedral. They were added in the 19th Century during the restoration of the Cathedral.
The spire of the Notre Dame Paris is rich with sculptures. It is surrounded by copper statues of the twelve Apostles, each with a group of three.
The original spire was constructed along with the building during the 13th century. However, it got bent by the wind over the centuries and was completely removed by 1786.
The spire was restored during the 19th century restoration process. It was again destroyed in April 2019 when the building caught fire.
The restoration of the Spire will be its third time since the construction of the Cathedral.
In front of the marvelous and sculpted facade of the building, point zero is generally missed from the attention of the tourists. Point Zero is a very important and minute detail in front of the church. It is the official reference point, representing Paris.
It is a circular tiny plate, inscribed in square flooring, which is engraved with a compass. The compass indicates all the distances to and from Paris.
INTERIOR OF THE NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL PARIS:
The interior of the Cathedral is as astonishing as the exterior facade. There are many decorative elements found in the interiors of the building.
- The stained glass windows, mainly the three Rose windows, are very beautiful and symbolize the “Holy Trinity” and give a sense of divine presence in the church.
- One of the most religious artifacts, ‘The Crown of Thorns’ is kept inside the Cathedral.
- Notre Dame has some priceless treasures which include the Holy Crown worn by the Christ, a piece of the Cross, and a nail.
- The interior of the tower includes a total of 10 bells.
- The grand organ is the imposing instrument placed 16 meters (52.5 feet) above the hall. It holds 8000 pipes, five keyboards at multiple levels, pedals, and 109 stops. The instrument catches the attention as you move across the hall. The pipe organ of Notre Dame is the most famous in the world.
AFFECT OF WARS ON NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL:
During the French Revolution, Cathedral was known as “a symbol of the power and aggression of Church and monarchy”. Many sculptures and statues were destroyed during this war.
While the World War II was going on, the stained glass windows were removed because of the fear that German soldiers might destroy the elements of the Cathedral. These windows were installed later when the World War ended.
NOTRE DAME FIRE:
A fire broke out in the Cathedral on April 15, 2019, which destroyed the iconic spire and major part of the roof. The most important treasures of the Cathedral like the Crown of Throns, religious artworks, the bell tower and the rose windows remained intact even after the fire. All the damages caused from the fire are still to be restored.
RESTORATION OF THE CATHEDRAL:
The building went through a restoration process in the 19th century and many elements were added which were destroyed during the war. New bells were installed in the Cathedral.
The Central Spire of the Cathedral was also restored during this period. The earlier spire was removed completely due to instability.
Notre Dame Cathedral Paris has suffered many damages throughout the centuries. However, it still remains to be the most marvelous building in the history of architecture. It is embellished with so many beautiful elements through the whole structure that one remains amazed in the entire journey of the Cathedral.