Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris

One of my most favourite places on Earth is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. For more than 800 years it has stood at the centre of Paris - in fact, it marks kilometre 0 for all distance measurements in France - and in the centre of French history. It is an icon of the city and a sublimely beautiful example of the Mediaeval genius for both faith and art. It is also an example of endurance, having survived disaster, desecration, and dilapidation before being restored to its rightful place as a jewel in the crown of Christendom. As the government deliberated on whether or not to tear the venerable cathedral down, a popular novel by Victor Hugo reignited passion for everything about the romance of mediaevalism, patriotism, and religiousity that it represented. Notre-Dame was not only a symbol for the Church but for Romanticism's growing dissatisfaction with the failed promises of modernity. That is also what it represents for me: a living, ancient, enduring emblem of the romance of history, beauty, majesty, and faith.

Notre-Dame figured prominently in my two trips to Paris, once during a brief layover in 2008 when it was one of only three attractions I had time to visit (the others being the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland Paris) and again in 2013 when we passed it nearly every day for two weeks. I lost track of the number of times we stepped inside to offer devotion, but its presence, the weight of its ages and the innumerable people who have passed through it, seeped into my bones. In the words of Sinclair Lewis: "He who has seen one cathedral ten times has seen something; he who has seen ten cathedrals once has seen but little; and he who has spent half an hour in each of a hundred cathedrals has seen nothing at all."

If there was any one building of human construction that I would consider my spiritual home, it would be the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris.

The Stryge. I too can take the same photos as millions of other people!

Elephant gargoyle!

A hunchback's eye-view of the city.

Gazing down from one of the topmost towers of Notre-Dame.

My only interior shot. While the interior of Notre-Dame is even more
photogenic than its exterior, I have a general policy against taking photos
inside sacred buildings out of respect for the intimacy of their purpose. 

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