The Religious Aspect Notre-Dame.
By Anil Gupta
Notre-Dame Catholic cathedral in Paris dates back to the
13th century and are one of the masterpieces of Gothic art
in Western Europe. The combination of stain glasses and the
huge interior are really stunning which arouses artistic
experiences of mystical dimension. Located on the Cité island
and surrounded by the Seine river, Notre-Dame is a flagship in
the Parisian landscape and provides a magnificent view of the
city from the top of its towers.
Notre-Dame was preceded by a Gallo-Roman temple to Jupiter,
a Christian basilica, and a Romanesque church. Its in Paris
began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII. Pope Alexander
III laid the foundation stone. Construction was completed
approximately 200 years later in about 1345.
Notre-Dame has had an action-packed history over the centuries.
Crusaders prayed here before leaving on their holy wars and
polyphonic music developed in the cathedral. Notre-Dame was
plundered during the French revolution, as were a number of
other cathedrals throughout France. Many of the cathedral's
other treasures were either destroyed or plundered only the
great bells avoided being melted down. Revolutionaries devoted
the cathedral first to the cult of Reason, and subsequently to
the cult of the Supreme Being. The church interior was used as
a warehouse for the storage of food.
Notre-Dame has the distinction of being the cathedral where
Napoléon, wishing to emphasize the primacy of the state over
the church, crowned himself emperor, and then crowned
Joséphine, his Martinique-born wife, as his empress. During
the 19th century, writer Victor Hugo and artists such as Ingres
brought awareness to the dangerous state of disrepair into which
the Cathedral had fallen, consequently raising a new awareness of
its artistic value. Whereas 18th-century neoclassicists had
virtually ignored the creations of the Middle Ages - and had
even replaced the stained glass at Notre-Dame with normal glass
- the 19th-century romantics saw that distant period with new eyes
and greater appreciation.
Besides bringing new life to the rose windows and the statues,
Viollet-le-Duc designed Notre-Dame's spire, a new feature of
the building, and the sacristy. Also in the 19th century, Baron
Haussmann evicted those Parisians whose houses cluttered the
Cathedral's vicinity. During the Commune of 1871, the Cathedral
was nearly burned by the Communards. Whatever happened, Notre-Dame
survived the Commune essentially unscathed.
Yet it is the art of Notre-Dame, rather than its history, that
still awes. The west front includes 28 statues representing the
monarchs of Judea and Israel. The three portals illustrate, from
left to right, the Last Judgment; the Madonna and Child; St. Anne,
the Virgin's mother; and Mary's youth until the birth of Jesus.
The interior, with its slender, graceful columns, is imposing -
there is room for as many as 6,000 worshipers. The three rose
windows to the west, north, and south - are masterful, their
colors a glory to behold on a sunny day.
To have looked at the upper parts of the church, the river, and
much of Paris, climbs the 387 steps to the top of one of the
towers. The south tower holds Notre-Dame's 13-ton bell, which
is rung on special occasions.
Article written by Anil Gupta.
About the Author
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