Notre Dame Cathedral

December 3, 2009

Our second day in Paris was all about Ile de la Cite and Ile St. Louis.  Ile de la Cite is the home of Notre Dame cathedral, one of the world’s amazing pieces of architecture.

The famous Flying Buttresses on Notre Dame cathedral, Paris, France.

I had studied a lot about the flying buttresses in art history classes through the years but seeing it for real is surprising.  It’s hard to believe that being in such a large space is really INSIDE.  We don’t have that many large inside spaces on the West coast of the U.S. much less in Seattle.

I couldn’t get in the full length of the cathedral so only took pix of half of the building at a time.   The cathedral is so big that it’s dark inside, like night time in there, all the time.  There are stained glass windows everywhere you look, incredible stone work and of course, ceilings.  =)

Stained glass windows in Notre Dame.

Everywhere is another example of amazing architecture.  I can only imagine what the builders went through to construct this marvel of a building.  Construction of Notre Dame was begun in 1163, so 20+ years earlier then Ritterhaus castle in Switzerland (see earlier post).  Notre Dame was finished in the mid 1240’s.  That means the building of this structure began 846 years ago or 42 generations ago.  Heck, the U.S. is only 233 years old.  Isn’t it an awesome thought that almost 900 years ago people could build something like this?  Really.  What kind of genius does that take?  Did someone just wake up and in that half sleep/half awake state this thought popped into their head?  According to the story, Bishop Maurice de Sully sketched his idea of this cathedral on the ground outside of the existing church, St. Stephen’s, which had been built in the 4th century and was not such a small place either.   Apparently, some excavation at the site has shown that the earlier church was actually quite large with a 4 aisle nave and was 36

Detail of one of the entrances into Notre Dame Cathedral.

meters across or so.  That’s about 118 feet! And built in the 300’s, uh, about

1,600 years ago.  That would be the days of Constantine I, the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity and established what we know as Constantinople but he called New Roma.  Okay!  Just crossed the boor line! =)

A funny pipe we saw walking on Ile St. Louis, not far from Notre Dame Cathedral.


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