Back home from my short business trip to Chicago, in time for a long Easter weekend. Having access again to my full photo library. Still under the impression of the catastrophic fire from last Monday, I revisited the images from my two visits to Notre Dame de Paris in 2009 and 2012. And I decided to share a few of them and take you on a 3 part tour through this magnificent building, that has been so badly damaged. Today I will show you the inside the cathedral, part two will take you up one of the main towers and then I will finish up with a walk around the outside of one of the most iconic buildings of the world. My photographic Easter celebration.
Notre Dame de Paris is the most famous of the medieval gothic cathedrals and is distinguished for its size, architectural interest and place in history.
The cathedral lies at the eastern end of the Ile de la Cité in the heart of Paris. The foundation stone was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163, and the high altar was consecrated in 1189. The choir, the principal western facade and the nave were completed by 1250. The porches, chapels, and other embellishments were added over the next 100 years.
The interior of Notre Dame consists of a choir with an apse, a short transept and a nave flanked by double aisles and square chapels. The size of the interior is The interior of the cathedral is 427 by 157 feet (130 by 48 metres) and the roof is 115 feet (35 metres) high, offering space for 9000 worshippers.
The cathedral’s three great rose windows are spectacular, still retaining their original colorful 13th-century glass telling biblical stories.
Over the centuries, Notre Dame has suffered plenty of damage and deterioration, still it survived the French Revolution and two World Wars. Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor of the French in the cathedral in 1804. The popularity of Victor Hugo’s novel “The hunchback of Notre Dame” inspired a major mid 19th century restoration by French architect Eugène-Emanuelle Viollet-le-Duc, during which also the now collapsed spire on top of the roof of the nave was added.
Photographs can’t really transmit the splendor and vastness of the magnificent interior of the cathedral, a temple of god, art, history and light. This week’s fire has done major damage to the structure, but it seems it can be saved and eventually restored, although that effort can take easily more than a decade. Fortunately, most of the stained glass windows (including the three rose windows) have survived the fire, as has the giant organ (of which I somehow never took a photo). But principal parts of the vaulted ceiling have collapsed onto the church floor, and much of the wooden interior has gone up in ashes as well. Until stabilization of the structure it is not safe to walk into the interior and fully assess the damage and rescue what is left.
The photos of 2009 were taken with a (now vintage) Panasonic TZ-5, the ones of 2012 with a Nikon D7000. IQ is definitely not on par with what my Olympus cameras of today give me. Also nowadays I would have photographed in a different way, as my style has changed and evolved over the years. But it is definitely fun to revisit the old photographs. And foremost, they are a document in history of something that has gone up in flames earlier this week. And that, even if reconstructed, will never be the same again.
Stay tuned for part two, a trip up the South Tower. You will see views of the totally lost medieval roof and the spire. And magnificent views of surrounding Paris.
Have a great Friday!