Tuesday, 16 April 2019

Notre Dame, Paris

As a result of the devastating fire in Notre Dame Cathedral last night, I am showing a repost from my last visit in 2015.
Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture
Before entering the cathedral, it is worth looking upwards to observe the stonework surrounding each of the three great western portal doors. Carved in 1220 the first portal depicts scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and the third shows scenes from the life of St. Anne (the Virgin Mary's mother). It is, however, the central portal showing 'The Last Judgment' that particularly caught my eye.
On the lower lintel, the dead are being resuscitated and awakened from their tombs by angels blowing trumpets. Above the archangel Michael is weighing their souls according to the lives they led on earth and the love they showed to God and to man. The chosen people are led to the left towards Heaven (on Christ's right) and the condemned are lead to the right, to hell, by evil looking devils. In the tympanum, Christ is seated in majesty on his throne of glory, reminding the observer that he came to earth to save humankind through his sacrifice on the cross. He is showing the wounds on his hands and side whilst the two angels next to him bear the instruments of Passion: the angel on the left is holding the spear and the nails of the Cross, and the angel on the right is holding the Cross itself. Mary and John the Baptist, kneel behind the angels in support of Christ as they did at his crucifixion. At the top can be seen the Heavenly Court showing angels, patriarchs, prophets, martyrs and virgins
A medieval stone carvers idea of heaven and
hell - lots of lively antics going on here!!!
In closeup note the anxious and distressed faces of the condemned and the wicked expressions of the devils. Amongst the condemned are bishops, monks, kings and queens. Beneath the lintel the resurrected, their eyes still sealed in death, are pushing up their tomb lids. One has to marvel at the exquisite artistry and vivid imaginations of these medieval stone carvers

The South Rose Window
The three rosettes Notre-Dame de Paris are some of the greatest glass masterpieces in Christianity. The South Rose Window was donated by King St. Louis designed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil. The rosette is dedicated to the New Testament and has 84 panes divided into four circles. The first one has 12 medallions and the second has 24. A third circle is made up of quadrilobes, and the fourth circles has 24 trilobes. This window features the religious symbolic number 4, along with its multiples, 12 and 24
A 1000 years of hand stroking has polished the base of these stone pillars
Just like York Minster in England which suffered a similar devastating fire in 1984, Notre Dame, will once again, hopefully, rise from the ashes.

41 comments:

  1. Lovely to see such wonderful photos. I last visited inside forty years ago although passed by the exterior many times since then. So sad to see it burn. B x

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  2. Utterly exquisite photos.

    I have said it elsewhere- seeing the cathedral burning is a wound in the heart.

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    1. Notre Dame will be a fine place again one day - glad you enjoyed the pre-devastation photos William.

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  3. I found it too devastating to watch the fire yesterday. It was so heartbreaking. So I just loved seeing your beautiful photos from 2015. They are uplifting. ;-)

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    1. I am pleased that you found them uplifting Catherine, however, I know for sure that Notre Dame will raise again.

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  4. I am fortunate to have both visited the cathedral and years later studied it in a history of art and architecture class. I've always been intrigued by the lives of the stone masons,carpenters and other artisans. I read somewhere workers building the cathedral were absolved of their sins. Perhaps it added some relish to their designs of hell, a place they no longer feared for themselves.

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    1. That is interesting to learn Susan - thank you.

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  5. I consider myself blessed to have visited Notre Dame several times. Although this is a terrible event, no one was killed and I hope the one injured fireman recovers well. Notre Dame will rise again, in time. There is so much history contained in the structure. Thanks for sharing this post again, Rosemary. I think we are all searching out our photos of the cathedral today.

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    1. Dear Lorrie - there are now no tangible signs of the enormous devastation caused by fire to York Minster, and I feel confident that the same will eventually prove to be true for Notre Dame. She will rise again.

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  6. Hello Rosemary, It was difficult to look at the photos of the Notre Dame fire. It shows how fragile our world really is. As you say, it will be rebuilt; in fact hundreds of millions of Euros have already been pledged. I find this fact to be odd--so much money is given to replace what is lost, and can no longer be "original", but so little is available to protect that which still exists but might be in delicate condition or simply "in the way".

    What an incredible loss this is to a truly major world monument. We don't know yet how much art and relics have been lost, or the total damage to the building. At the very least, the damage is considerable, especially the "forest" of original medieval rafters that formed such an impressive sight under the roof, both for age and stunning appearance. One wonders how this building was not better protected by the most modern alarm detectors, sprinklers, and so forth. Having a man go up to check for fire each day seems rather inadequate.

    Although there are of course many photos of the cathedral, yours are very beautiful and give your readers who have not been to Paris an idea of what has been put in danger, and of the scale of the disaster.
    --Jim
    p.s. Sorry this comment is so choppy, but it is late here, and it is hard to organize my thoughts about this shocking event.

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    1. Hello Jim - I suspect that it is very likely that there are hundreds and thousands of our great buildings of historical and architectural importance that are vulnerable across many countries.
      I am reminded too of the great fire at Windsor Castle - one would have thought that was fireproof.

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  7. Beautiful photos. I can't recall ever going inside (I think maybe it was closed when I was there or I didn't have time) but it feels quite upsetting that it has been damaged. As you say, York Minster has been splendidly restored - and anyway churches everywhere are not fixed but change and evolve all the time, so I guess this is just part of its ongoing journey. The restoration will bring work to so many craftspeople too.

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    1. It is always good to look on the positive side Jenny as you have written here.

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  8. I just read on another blog that the three rose windows survived the fire -- I hope it is true. What irreplaceable works of art!

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    1. It is surprising what restorers can actually achieve today even with just a few fragments.

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  9. I think that Notre Dame is one of those sites which represents world patrimony not purely French heritage and the world should rally around the push to rebuild. It goes far beyond any religious significance the cathedral might have.

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    1. The push has already begun David, and I have no fear that Notre Dame will be restored back to her former glory given time.

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  10. Such a tragedy, but let's hope the damage is not so bad as the fire made it seem and Notre Dame can be repaired. Best, Jane x

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    1. Dear Jane -I think back to the terrible damage done to Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court and know that Notre Dame will indeed return back to her majestic self one day just like these other buildings were.

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  11. Thank you for this wonderful re-post. I remember visiting the cathedral in 1964. My friends and I entered, but a service was in progress. We stayed a short time, but were not able to explore the interior as we would have liked. So, I appreciate your beautiful photos and interesting text.
    A sad time, but with contributions from around the world, it will rise again.

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    1. When visiting York Minster today it is totally impossible to see any of the terrible destruction that took place following their fire in 1984.

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  12. Dearest Rosemary,
    Indeed a very tragic day for the entire world. Such a splendid Unesco sight...
    Could it not have been better protected; at this time and era with all our technology?
    So happy that both of us have been there too; not coming away with such great photos as you did, but it's inside our hearts.
    With my late husband I took Mom & Dad there in 1977, just a day trip (a long drive of 10 hours total) and let them marvel about this and more in Paris. Fond memories for sure.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette I am reminded of Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court too both of which had devastating fires in recent years - you would imagine that both of these royal premises would have been better protected too. It seems very likely that many of our iconic medieval buildings are not.

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  13. Thank you for this post and the wonderful pictures - what a tragedy, how sad...
    Luckily there is good reason to hope that the church will be renovated.

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    1. I am firmly convinced that she will rise up once again.

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  14. Thank you for re-posting this. I was only there once and it would have been about 58 years ago. It was so hard to watch the fire on the news yesterday. As you say I am sure it will rise again.

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  15. It is such a shock to see such an icon in flames. I think everyone is very touched by this disaster. At least you have the photos....:(

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    1. I also have lots of memories from visits made going back over many years.

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  16. Thankfully and hopefully most of the stonework has survived intact. Huge restoration job inside that should employ large bands of highly skilled craftsmen for decades is one minor upside though.

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    1. We have lots of fine craftsmen experts here following the restoration of York Minster, Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court.

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  17. Watching the fire progress was heart breaking.
    Thank you Rosemary for sharing your photos taken on a better day - the kind of day all of us who have spent time at this beautiful place remember with so much heart stopping loveliness as we looked up and around. . . . . in amazement.

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    1. I was so shocked when I saw the very first news report when I switched on the TV.

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  18. Oh, I just found this post Rosemary. Thank you for your amazing photos, the best I have seen, and your explanation of all the carved figures. Your close-up photos show so well what my camera only caught at a distance and I was unable to read what was there. It was shocking and horrifying to see the fire when we woke the other morning, and I saw the tower collapse in the fire. The first photo captures it, and image which we will never forget. It is encouraging to hear that already plans have begun to rebuild, although sadly I doubt I will ever see it again personally.

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    1. I have visited York Minster, Windsor Castle, and Hampton Court subsequent to their huge devastating fires. The old and the new all blended in together seamlessly.

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  19. It will be rebuilt, but how shocking to watch this monument being devastated by the fire. The whole world was in shock .

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  20. So shocking, I was quite speechless while watching the burning spire on the TV news. It’s antiquity and pleasing Christian aesthetics are distinctive. Thanks for reminding us of how glorious and beautiful it is by re-posting this post. Since it’s the gem of not only France but of the world, it will surely be resurrected; I’ll keep my fingers crossed. The Rose Window always reminds me of Mandala.

    Yoko

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