Saturday, March 30, 2013

Outside of Notre-Dame, Paris

Notre-Dame is probably the second most famous landmark in Paris, behind the Eiffel Tower. The church's construction began in 1163 under Bishop Sully. It took nearly 200 years to finish. Built on the site of an old Roman temple, the cathedral is a Gothic masterpiece. The west front is the main entrance to the building and since we were there on a Saturday morning, the line was rather long to enter. That left us plenty of time to admire the exterior of the cathedral.

Notre-Dame from across the river

Us crossing the river, blissfully unaware of...

The long line!

The line to get in went from one side of the plaza, up some wooden bleachers in the plaza, down again into Notre-Dame by the far door (see if you can spot Mommy and L in the picture above). Over the entrance doors is the Kings' Gallery, featuring 28 statues of the Kings of Judah. During the Revolution, those brilliant intellectuals assumed these kings were French kings and destroyed most of the statues. They have all been replaced with 19th century copies. Some of the heads were saved and not discovered until 1977! They are in the Musee National du Moyen Age.

The Jewish Kings hold up the Medieval Masterpiece!

Tours of the Bell Tower are available but we did not take advantage since the children probably would not be patient enough. Visitors can see gargoyles and Quasimodo's bells up close from there, as well as having good views of the city.

We admired the three doorways leading into the cathedral. The leftmost as you face the front is the Portal of the Virgin, with Mary surrounded by saints and kings (these are the guys the Revolutionaries meant to knock over, whoops!) dating from the 13th century.

Portal of the Virgin

St. Denis featured after his martyrdom

Other saints by the Portal of the Virgin

The middle door is the Portal of the Last Judgment, featuring Christ enthroned in Heaven.

Portal of the Last Judgment

On the right-hand side is the Portal of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Portal of St. Anne

Unfortunately, we did not walk around the back of the cathedral where the famous flying buttresses are visible. These architectural structures bear the weight of the ceiling and the walls, allowing for much larger windows in the walls.

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