I’m a little surprised by the massiveness of Paris. Everything is so BULKY. It’s lovely, but big. Buildings seem to hog whole blocks, making the city seem a bit larger than life. I don’t recall that from when I was here as a student – but then, I don’t recall much at all about Paris from that trip, just the view of Notre Dame’s flying buttresses from a café along the Seine.
I’m not sure that café is still there, but Notre-Dame is and the fanciful cathedral looks exactly as I remember it.
The cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris took about 170 years to construct. When it was finished around 1330 it was a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. It remains such today, with glorious colored glass, flying buttresses, soaring arches, and grinning gargoyles.
We circle around, admiring this intricate work of architectural art from all sides.
There are three entrances in the cathedral’s dramatic western façade:
The Portal of the Virgin. . .
. . . the Portal of the Last Judgement. . .
. . . and the Portal of Saint Anne, where we enter after only a brief wait in line.
The figures below and to either side represent a variety of biblical characters – the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon, and the apostle Peter, among others. All were beheaded (literally) in 1793 by revolutionaries who mistook them for French royalty. The heads were buried and only found relatively recently, leaving these figures with earlier concrete replacements.
Beyond lies the cathedral’s dimly-lit interior. It is a magnificent, overwhelming space – a space intended to ensure that all who enter known they are in the presence of an all-powerful God.
Now we spend only a brief time inside before heading off in search of more earthly pleasures – like lunch.
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