April 15, 2019 was a very sad day for Paris and the world. The 850 year old church in the heart of Paris caught fire and burned for almost 15 hours. I was shocked and heartbroken when I saw photos of the cathedral in flames and later in ruins. I don’t want to be sad anymore, so today, I want to celebrate the beauty of Notre-Dame de Paris.
The Beauty of Notre-Dame de Paris
I’d like to start off this post with photos showing how beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral is. Information about its history and the recent fire, come after.
The Interior Of Notre-Dame
The church has three round, stained glass windows that were constructed in the 1200s. These are the rose windows and measure approximately 32 feet in diameter. The Grand pipe organ was added in 1868 and during its lifetime it has been modified, been repaired, and updated. At the back is the golden cross and alter.
If you had the opportunity to go to the top of the towers, you would have seen the gargoyles close up and gotten great views of Paris. While the gargoyles on top of the tower are perfectly positioned for photos, they are in fact used for drainage. From up top, you got a panoramic view of Paris with sights of the Seine river, the Eiffel Tower, Saint Sulpice, and Tour Montparnasse.
The Exterior Of Notre-Dame
One of my favourite places to take photos of Notre-Dame is from the southeast corner of the cathedral. Whether you are standing on Pont de l’Archevêché or sitting on a barge having a drink (I’ve done both), you’ll always get a great view—-day or night.
There are always crowds near the entranceway to Notre-Dame. They are either gazing at the statues and carvings on the facade, looking at the two towers, or staring down at Point Zero. This is the exact centre of Paris from which all distances are measured.
October 2018 Sound And Light Show
During my a visit to Paris in the Fall of 2018, it was announced that there would be a special sound and light show called, “Dame de Coeur” (Queen of Hearts), created by Bruno Seiller. I absolutely loved this show and I hope it will return after the renovations are done as it was truly a unique experience. It highlighted the beauty of Notre-Dame de Paris in so many colours-—literally.
The spectacle ran for 8 nights (16 sessions) and it was anticipated that 160,000 saw the show. It took place right in front of Notre-Dame Cathedral with colourful lights shining on the monument. Admission was free and you just needed a ticket to get into the secured area. Everyone stood around to watch the show for approximately half an hour.
The storyline of the show involved a meeting between a French nurse and dying American soldier on the battlefield during World War I. He tells her that he regrets having never visited Notre-Dame but through magic, they are able to visit it together. This story was told with a light show illuminated on the facade of Notre Dame combined with dialogue (in French, of course), and music.
Historic Notre-Dame Cathedral
Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) was built in the 12th century on Île de la Cité, and while Victor Hugo’s book, “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” made it popular for the masses in 1831, it is particularly renowned for these facts:
- is the most visited monument in Paris, with more than 13 million visitors a year
- designated a UNESCO World Heritage site
- Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor there in 1804
- survived the French Revolution and two world wars
- supposedly houses the crown of thorns which is said to be what Jesus wore before his crucifixion
- many of the heads of the statues at Notre-Dame were removed during the French Revolution by protestors believing they symbolized the monarchy. (They actually represented the kings of Judah). 21 of the severed heads can be found at the Cluny Museum.
- in the 19th century, architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc worked to restore Notre-Dame’s western facade, replacing the decapitated heads of the statues and adding the spire to the top of the cathedral.
Quick Recap About The Fire
The latest images from inside #NotreDame are remarkable. Obviously enormous damage. But given the fire burned so long, the altar and cross seem largely intact, and even rows of pews untouched by flames pic.twitter.com/pa8uZhrUcI
— Patrick Galey (@patrickgaley) April 16, 2019
The wooden roof and the spire were destroyed on April 15, but miraculously, the twin towers were saved and the three stained glass rose windows remained undamaged. Over 400 firefighters fought the blaze and we all felt helpless as they struggled to extinguish the fire.
Experts have claimed that one of the reasons the whole cathedral didn’t collapse is because of the design of the church. The stone vaults acted like arches and when combined with the buttresses, the walls were reinforced.
It is said that the cause of the fire was an accident, but some feel it was connected to the extensive $9 million renovation project that was going on. An investigation by the French government is underway.
President Emmanuel Macron announced that Notre-Dame would be rebuilt and that funds would be raised to accomplish this. Within a few days, almost 900 million € ($1 billion) had been pledged. It was stated that Notre-Dame could be closed for at least 6 years and that there would be a competition to design the new spire.
Fortunately, 16 of the copper statues (12 apostles and four evangelists) had been removed days before the fire and Paris Mayor Anne Hildago has said that many of the furnishings, artworks, and treasures from Notre-Dame have been moved to Hôtel de Ville until a more permanent storage facility can be found.
Hopefully, by the time the repairs and renovations are done, you will have an opportunity to see the beauty of Notre-Dame de Paris.