Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is one of the best known Parisian landmarks, besides the Eiffel Tower. It is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, characterized by the adoption of the pointed arch and invention of the flying buttresses to support the flamboyantly higher walls. Notre Dame de Paris was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, unlike that of earlier Romanesque architecture.
Notre Dame in French means “Our Lady”. In the sanctuary, leaning against the south east pillar of the transept, flowers which remain white honor a Virgin with Child dedicated to “Notre-Dame de Paris” Ever since the cathedral was first founded in the 12th century, an altar dedicated to the Virgin has stood on this spot.
Tradition has it that the first stone of Notre Dame was laid in 1163 in witness of Pope Alexander III. Construction continued throughout the entire Gothic period, with the remaining elements being completed in 1345. Attention to detail at its greatest, 182 years to build!
Notre Dame was first built in the 18th century and then almost completely rebuilt in the 19th century. The organ has 7,800 pipes, with 900 classified as historical. It has 111 stops, five 56-key manuals and a 32-key pedalboard.
There are five bells at Notre Dame. The great bourdon bell, Emmanuel, is located in the South Tower, weighs just over 13 tons, and is tolled to mark the hours of the day and for various occasions and services. There are four additional bells on wheels in the North Tower, which are swing chimed. These bells are rung for various services and festivals. The bells were once rung manually, but are currently rung by electric motors. When it was discovered that the size of the bells could cause the entire building to vibrate, which threatened its integrity they were taken out of use.
Notre Dame Cathedral is not to be missed. Make it a stop on your Celtic Tours Experience France Tour of Paris and Nice. Our Experience France Tour is perfect for small groups of 10 or more. Learn more about this exciting France Vacation.