Now we all know the story, about the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Classic tale of a hunchback and a beautiful Gypsy right? So what inspired this beautiful scene of a tale? None other than this beautiful piece of architecture that lives in Paris, France was started in 1163 and completed in 1330. Notre Dame meaning “Our Lady of Paris” in French, attracts more visitors than the Eiffel Tower by 13 million people each year according to the Cathedral’s website.
The west front of the cathedral is one of its most notable features, with its two 69-meter (228-feet) tall towers. The South Tower houses the cathedral's famous bell, "Emmanuel” which we will talk about later. Now according to a book actually published Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris, the facade once had 11 massive steps toward the building, but due to the movement of soil and earth has changed, making once larger than it is now in places. Also look at every window, there once stood French saint statues in each of them that is seen vacant today, besides one saint. The façade is an imposing, simple and harmonious mass whose strength and sombre grandeur is based on interplay between vertical and horizontal lines: four powerful buttresses that spring up to the top of the towers, lifting them heavenwards. One of the original bishops that played a big role in the construction of Notre Dame, Bishop Sully said that the towers,” They symbolically let us know that this cathedral-church was built for God. Two wide horizontal strips seem to bring the building back down to our mortal earth”. This cathedral-church is also a cathedral for men, no women were allowed in the church for quite a few decades.
This is the view of above, God's view if you will, the grounds on which the Notre Dame stands known as "Island of the City" in 52 BC.
In 1991, a major restoration program was undertaken. It was expected to last 10 years but continued well into the 21st century - the cleaning and restoration of the old sculptures was an exceedingly delicate job. But now the scaffolding is down and the result is spectacular: the stone architecture and sculptures gleam in their original honey-toned color instead of industrial black. Now that we have seen some of its structural history, let’s look at some specific places.
The Crown of Light, a grand lampier; a unique form of chandelier only a fancier word, once hung above the crossroads between the North and South wings, now hangs above the main alter in the North wing of the church. It is made of gilded copper, crystal balls, and lacework cut-outs of jewels. There was some controversy about it being above the alter, saying that it would mean the priest or preacher was being crowned and not Jesus.
The Great Bell located on the South Tower weighs exactly 13 tons according the the Church site and has been there since 1631, not the full original but historical the oldest nonetheless. It is only rung on certain occasions such as Christmas, Easter, a Pope's visit, even on Sept. 11th etc. The size of the actual toll ball is 500 kilograms. When it is sounded, it literally vibrates and resonates the entire church, one reason it is not sounded so often causing further damage.
The North and South Rose Stained Glass Windows. The North Rose Window depicts every story in the Old Testament The South Rose Window, which is newer and has more detail, depicts every story in the New Testament, along with the the 16 prophets from both Old and New Testaments. In some circles are martyrs and saints alike such as St. Christaphor and even Joan of Arc. In the center circle, God is depicted in all of His majesty. On the far corners, the Descent into Hell to the east, surrounded by Moses and Aaron (at the top) and the temptation of Adam and Eve (at the bottom); the resurrection of Christ to the west, with Saints Peter and Paul (on top), and Saints Madeleine and John (at the top).
There is different views of the gargoyles are thought of today. Such as they were seen as protectors, guardians of the church. Others are that they are former demons that froze before entering the church according to Old and Old Tales.com.
As I mentioned earlier, Notre Dame has made a bigger name for itself in movies and literature. Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre. So now you can go home and watch The Hunchback of Notre Dame and look at the church a little differently! The bell, the stained glass windows and even notice the restoration changes such as the industrial black that is now honey-colored architecture. Thanks for listening!
Notre Dame Cathedral
The History of Notre Dame
Specific Historical Parts of the
Church and Their Meanings