Europe Visita Iglesia #3: Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France

Every time I went to Paris, I never failed to pay a visit to Notre Dame if only to listen to the awesome pipe organ playing during Mass. Because of its rich history, there is so much to see of course like the beautiful stained glass rose windows.

The tall spire stands tall above the city’s landscape. It was destroyed in the 2019 fire but will be rebuilt in all its former glory.
The Seine runs past the Cathedral that's built on an island which splits the river into two branches.
The Seine runs past the Cathedral that’s built on an island which splits the river into two branches.
The altar has a simple golden Cross standing above the Pieta.
The altar has a simple golden Cross standing above the Pieta.
In front of the cathedral after Mass.
In front of the cathedral after Mass.

Built in 1163 on the site of a Roman temple, it epitomizes the history of the city of Paris because it has been witness to momentous events of French history including the crowning of England’s Henry VI as King of France and the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte.

Notre Dame Paris Detail of the front facade.
Notre Dame Paris Detail of the front facade.
Sculpture in one of the chapels.
Sculpture in one of the chapels.
The garden at the rear of the cathedral.
The garden at the rear of the cathedral.
The main entrance door called the Portal of Last Judgement tells the story of heaven and hell.
The main entrance door called the Portal of Last Judgement tells the story of heaven and hell.

Though originally of Romanesque design as seen from the twin towers on the facade, Gothic elements were introduced later in the 13th century when magnificent flying buttresses were added on the sides to distribute the weight of the walls and add space to the interiors.

Stained glass above the Notre Dame altar.
Stained glass above the Notre Dame altar.
That's the organ with 8,000 pipes and five keyboards above the entrance with one of the rose windows behind it.
That’s the organ with 8,000 pipes and five keyboards above the entrance with one of the rose windows behind it.
A sculpted frieze depicting the life of Christ.
A sculpted frieze depicting the life of Christ.
The view from the entrance towards the altar. You have to crane your neck upwards to take in the magnificent arches that tower up high above you.
The view from the entrance towards the altar. You have to crane your neck upwards to take in the magnificent arches that tower up high above you.

After the French Revolution, the church was plundered and desecrated and turned into an atheist’s Temple of Reason. As such, it came to be used as a warehouse for the storage of food and other non-religious purposes.

The stained glass rose window is one of the characteristics of Gothic architecture which brings light into the enormously tall interiors.
The stained glass rose window is one of the characteristics of Gothic architecture which brings light into the enormously tall interiors.
Side elevation facing the Seine.
Side elevation facing the Seine.
The view from the altar looking at the wooden pews.
The view from the altar looking at the wooden pews.

After almost being demolished because of disrepair, the church was restored and renovated upon King Louis Philippe’s order thanks in part to Victor Hugo’s novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” which was a bestseller and raised awareness among people of the cathedral’s decaying state. It was during this time when the middle spire was added and those mythical creatures, the gargoyles on the rooftops serving as waterspouts, were added.

The rose window from the outside gardens.
The rose window from the outside gardens.
Some of the gargoyles watching from the roof.
Some of the gargoyles watching from the roof.
There were always people at night on the wide plaza till the early hours of the morning.
There were always people at night on the wide plaza till the early hours of the morning.

The Cathedral is now undergoing repairs and renovation after the terrible fire that gutted the roof and spire on April 15, 2019. The plan is to build the roof structure just like the original, cutting the oakwood from a forest with 200-year-old trees near Le Mans. So there’s much hope that Our Lady of Paris will be back to its grand old self as one of the most beloved symbols of the City of Lights.

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About the Author

Al P. Manlangit is a Filipino architect based in Kuwait who loves to travel and take photos everytime he gets the chance to do so. The genres that he explores are landscape, architecture, and street photography which come in handy wherever he goes. He blogs at designerq8.com, focusing on interesting places he visited with short stories to tell behind each frame.

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