Notre Dame de Paris, France

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Notre Dame de Paris

The line was long but I wouldn’t miss one of Paris’ famous landmarks. Situated on a small island in River Seine was the building where a flock of tourist visits all year round. The weather was gloomy and yet people walked around everywhere and because this cathedral was one of the most famous landmarks in the city the line was long. I was having second thoughts of if I should go in or not so while I walked around the square I passed by a statue of Charlemagne. The monument was made of bronze standing on a pedestal. Charlemagne was depicted on a horse with his vassals Roland and Olivier.

Charlemagne et ses Leudes (Charlemagne and his guards)

“The Imperial Crown of the Holy Roman Empire and Durandal are visible. The presence of the crown of the Emperor is anachronistic, because Roland died in 778, prior to the coronation of Charlemagne in 800. The presence of the Scepter of Charles V is likewise anachronistic, as it was not created until the 14th century.

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Emperor Charlemagne

Louis Rochet began this statue after completing his statue of William the Conqueror at Falaise, and his statue of Peter the 1st of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro.

The statue was proposed in 1853. A plaster version was presented at the International Exposition of 1867 and the bronze version at the Universal Exposition of 1878. The statue was preserved during the German occupation of World War II because of the importance of Charlemagne in German history.”

Well that’s some good information about the statue and how it survived WWII. Anyway, I finally made up my mind and decided to join the long line of tourists waiting to get inside. The line went fast as expected and once I got in the giant doorways I was greeted by the ticketing booth.  It cost around 10 euro and I paid and walked along the aisle and gaze at this famous cathedral.  As I walked here is the brief history of this well love cathedral.

“Notre-Dame lies at the eastern end of the Île de la Cité and was built on the ruins of two earlier churches, which were themselves predated by a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. The cathedral was initiated by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris, who about 1160 conceived the idea of converting into a single building, on a larger scale, the ruins of the two earlier basilicas. The foundation stone was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163, and the high altar was consecrated in 1189. The choir, the western facade, and the nave were completed by 1250, and porches, chapels, and other embellishments were added over the next 100 years.

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1831 Notre Dame

Notre-Dame Cathedral consists of a choir and apse, a short transept, and a nave flanked by double aisles and square chapels. Its central spire was added during restoration in the 19th century. The interior of the cathedral is 427 by 157 feet (130 by 48 metres) in a plan, and the roof is 115 feet (35 metres) high. Two massive early Gothic towers (1210–50) crown the western facade, which is divided into three stories and has its doors adorned with fine early Gothic carvings and surmounted by a row of figures of Old Testament kings.

The two towers are 223 feet (68 metres) high; the spires with which they were to be crowned were never added. At the cathedral’s east end, the apse has large clerestory windows (added 1235–70) and is supported by single-arch flying buttresses of the more daring Rayonnant Gothic style, especially notable for their boldness and grace. The cathedral’s three great rose windows alone retain their 13th-century glass.

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Late 19th century with the Notre Dame gargoyle

Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered damage and deterioration through the centuries, and after the French Revolution, it was rescued from possible destruction by Napoleon, who crowned himself emperor of the French in the cathedral in 1804. Notre-Dame underwent major restorations by the French architect E.-E. Viollet-le-Duc in the mid-19th century. The cathedral is the setting for Victor Hugo’s historical novel Notre-Dame de Paris (1831).”

This was a short history of this religious gem because most of the people know it already or had gone to do their own research about this place. After walking around and taking some pictures. I looked into the small souvenir shops where they had religious items. I was tempted to buy one for my grandma but my finances won’t let me. So I just left to avoid any more temptations. Here is the plot summary of Notre-Dame de Paris by Victor Hugo, while The Hunchback of Notre Dame in English. It has been made to countless movies and any form of entertainment. One of the most enduring legacies of Hugo was the church itself.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

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Easton Press’ The Hunchback of Notre Dame

“The novel is set in 15th-century Paris and powerfully evokes medieval life in the city during the reign of Louis XI. Quasimodo’s fate is sealed when he is abandoned at birth by his mother on the steps of Notre Dame. Adopted by the Archdeacon Claude Frollo, Quasimodo becomes bell ringer of the tower, hiding his grotesque, hunchbacked figure away from prying Parisian eyes. Frollo is consumed by forbidden lust for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, who dances on the square below the cathedral. He convinces Quasimodo to kidnap her, but his attempts are foiled by the captain of the King’s Archers, Phoebus, who also falls for Esmeralda.

 

Quasimodo is imprisoned for the crime and is abused and humiliated by his captors. After a particularly brutal flogging, he is tended to by Esmeralda, who gives him water. From this point on, Quasimodo is hopelessly devoted to her. With all three characters under her spell, a dramatic tale of love and deceit ensues.

Quasimodo is flogged, engraving by Von perrichon, illustration for book "Notre-Dame de Paris" by Victor Hugo, 1877
Quasimodo being punished

The love-obsessed Frollo spies on Phoebus and Esmeralda, stabbing the former in a jealous rage. Esmeralda is arrested and condemned to death for his murder, and, despite a brave rescue attempt by Quasimodo, is later hanged. Quasimodo, seeing Esmeralda hanging lifeless from the gallows, cries out, “There is all I loved.” The theme of redemption through love-struck a universal chord. Quasimodo throws Frollo from the cathedral tower. Later, two skeletons are found in Esmeralda’s tomb—that of a hunchback embracing that of a woman.”

 

It was such a tragic story full of history, love and devotion. Luckily the Disney version was mellower down. Aside from the cartoon version disney also created a broadway version and the music is fantastic on that one. My personal favorites are “Rest and Recreation,” and “Esmeralda.” Also, the original songs in the movie are included which have their own beautiful tone.

I got out of the cathedral feeling a little accomplished because I finally visited the outside and inside of this church which I only see in movies and tv. The brief history had already told a lot about the church as I walked on to my next destination.

Here are the links for more information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlemagne_et_ses_Leudes

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Notre-Dame-de-Paris

https://www.britannica.com/topic/The-Hunchback-of-Notre-Dame

https://www.thoughtco.com/hunchback-of-notre-dame-victor-hugo-739812

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