Show Notes for Episode 5: Notre Dame Architecture

Categories: Arts & Architecture, Paris

[01:50] Notre Dame is a huge limestone church: two towers 227 feet high with several levels inside them that come to a flat top.

[04:10] Notre Dame bells and how some of them were replaced in 2013.

[05:45] Three entrances into the Cathedrals and each has a theme. One of them is The Last Judgment. The devil on the bottom right hand-side (facing the church) is cheating! The carvings tell stories that were very clear to Middle Ages people (just like cartoons are to us today), so it’s good to have a guide to explain nowadays.

[10:00] The Kings on the upper part of the façade. Each about 12 feet tall.

[11:20] Most of the Western façade of Notre Dame was either restored or replaced in the 19th century because in the 1790s ill informed revolutionaries who hated the monarchy thought these were kings of France and desecrated them. Those are actually biblical kings, not kings of France.

[12:50] Major renovation of Notre Dame in the late 1800s based on drawings on the 1600s. But there are still parts of the church that are from the 1100s and 1200s.

[14:15] On the inside Notre Dame is 415 feet long and 157 feet wide, it is very large. One of the innovations of Notre Dame is that they were the first to create those huge rose windows. The two rose windows are 42.9 feet in diameter and are made up of millions of little bits of glass because each piece is a couple of inches wide only.

[16:40] The north rose window is the one that has original glass (that’s the one to left side of the church if standing outside facing the church), the other side had to be renovated extensively. But it’s impossible to tell they did such a wonderful job.

[19:30] Gargoyles! They were invented at Notre Dame and are now found everywhere. They were invented to serve the function of a rain pipe in order to limit rain wear and tear. Why are gargoyles monsters? To scare away evil.

[22:15] There are also Chimeras on Notre Dame, not the same as Gargoyles, they serve no function other than being a monster that keeps evil spirits away. Those have become very iconic of Notre Dame as well.

[23:15] To prevent the roof from collapsing they invented flying buttresses at Notre Dame. These are architectural arches that hold the Cathedral up. This is also a Notre Dame innovation.

[26:30] The inside of Notre Dame. It’s a busy church, there are lots of people. Dress modestly even in the summer. Entrance is free, just like all churches in France. You can take pictures without a flash.

[29:00] Go down one of the side isles, look at all the side chapels, stop at the transept (where the church takes the shape of a cross), you can now see the rose windows from the inside and see all the color.

[30:00] There are a lot of details that you may find interesting as you walk around, but the idea is to get a feeling for the size of the church, the volume. Stop whenever something catches your attention, work your way through and around, taking your time.

[32:30] When you come back out you’ll have a lasting impression of what medieval architectural detail was like.

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Categories: Arts & Architecture, Paris