Saturday, April 28, 2012

Notre Dame

We had one day left after Normandy to visit some more sites.  Unfortunately we never got to the Louvre.  The wait was three hours to get in.  We were told there are 10 miles of corridors and no matter how much time you spend there, it won't be enough.  You may be as surprised as I was to learn that the Mona Lisa is about an 11 inch x 14 inch piece of artwork!  I thought about all the times I've heard "Is that the Alamo?" when we take someone to San Antonio.  People expect more and are disappointed.  It must be that way with the Mona Lisa too.

We also passed up the D'Orsay and the Orangerie.  We had tickets in advance for Versailles and I think arranging your visit to these popular museums in advance would be a good idea.  We never did get to the Montmarte area of France so did not see the Moulin Rouge or Sacre Coeur Basilica (Sacred Heart) that is so prominent in that area.  I did get a far off picture of it however when we were on the Terrace of the Lafayette Galleries.

We could not, however, pass up Notre Dame.  The others in our group attended Mass there on Saturday when we were at Versailles and they also toured the Montmarte area having already been to Versailles on previous trips.  I needed to be two people at once that day.

The corner stone for the Cathedral was laid in 1163 and it took over 150 years to build.  The front reminds me of the church in Santa Fe, NM where they ran out of money to build the spires.

There is beautiful stonework, all with meaning, in the three naves. 

In the tympanum of the central doorway, the Portail du Jugement Dernier (originally 1220-30, destroyed in 18th century, restored by Viollet-le-Duc), is a representation of the Last Judgment: at the top, Christ the Judge (original); below this, the Archangel Michael directing the righteous to heaven and the damned to hell; below this again, the resurrection of the dead. On the intrados are (left) the choir of the blessed being received by Abraham in paradise and (right) hell, with grotesque demons; on the central pier is a figure of Christ (19th century). On the door jambs are the wise (left) and foolish (right) virgins; on the side walls are the 12 Apostles (19th century); and the reliefs along the base depict virtues (above) and vices (below); the figures on the right are original.

I personally think it is more beautiful from the back.

The lighting is very low inside and in some places you aren't allowed to take flash photography so the best pictures were the stained glass windows.  They are all beautiful and some light is coming through which helps in the photography.

St. Joan of Arc fought in the 100 Years War and was burned at the stake as a heretic at the age of 19.

The rose window in the north transept of Paris' Notre-Dame (c. 1255), with 80 Old Testament scenes centered on the Virgin.

I know Michaelangelo's original Pieta is in Rome and I was unable to find out who sculpted this piece.

In a chapel near the west doors is a fine silver Baptismal Font, one of the annual gifts to the church by the goldsmiths.  This is the only comment I could find about the font in the Baptismal Chapel.

There are so many beautiful churches, basilicas and cathedrals throughout Europe.  Even if you have no interest in their religious importance, the artwork, architecture and treasures are very interesting and to me amazing.  I don't believe there are many artisans today that could duplicate most of what we see in these churches.  And considering the age of our country, their very existence since almost 1000 years ago is awe inspiring to me.

No comments: