This blog post is a tribute to Notre-Dame de Paris, one of Europe’s finest cathedrals.
Notre-Dame Cathedral has always been a special landmark for us, representing the very heart of Paris. We have many beautiful photos taken over the years, have climbed to the top and admired the view of and from the upper regions of the cathedral, and seen Notre-Dame de Paris in all seasons.
On April 15th, 2019, we shared the reactions of the rest of the world on hearing that the ancient, beautiful and iconic cathedral was burning. As the initial feelings of disbelief, followed by shock and then grief gradually wore off, and we were comforted by the reassurances of the French government (to whom Notre-Dame belongs), and particularly President Macaron, that the cathedral would be fully restored and that rebuilding would commence at once, we were able to view in a positive light the past of this beautiful cathedral and to consider the future in which she will again stand tall and proud.
We have received many requests for photos of Notre-Dame and have gone through our files and selected a few of them to share with you here.
But first, watch this short video of the cherry blossoms in front of the cathedral with the sound of the bells in the background.
A PARIS ICON
While the Eiffel Tower is the universally accepted symbol of Paris, Notre-Dame Cathedral is her heart and soul. Kilometre Zero or Point Zero, the starting point from which all highways in France are measured, is in the square facing the entrance to Notre-Dame Cathedral. You could say with justification, therefore, that all roads in France lead to Notre-Dame.
About 12 million visitors pass through the cathedral’s doors every year, making her the most visited Paris monument.
The 295’ high spire of Notre Dame, ornate and unmistakeable, was an integral part of the Paris skyline, visible from all across the city. It’s hard to imagine a Paris skyline without that spire but, for a while, we will have to be satisfied with remembering it and looking forward to how it will be in the future. The spire, which collapsed and was destroyed in the April 15th fire, was a taller and more ornate reconstruction of its original 13th century predecessor. That one was removed (for safety) in 1786. It was replaced, in the middle of the 19th Century, with the most recent version, made of wood covered with lead, weighing 750 tons, .
Until the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the two towers of Notre-Dame were the tallest structures in Paris, offering marvelous views of the city. Visitors can climb the north tower to the very top by means of a narrow, 387-step, spiral staircase. We climbed it a few years ago with the idea of taking advantage of those wonderful views, and as we were struggling up the last quarter, weighed down with photographic gear, we wondered if we had been wise. But after several long minutes recovering our breath, we gazed out across the city and realized just how worthwhile that torturous climb had been. And now, as we look at the photos we were able to take of the upper parts of the cathedral and of the views, we feel very fortunate. Many of them are irreplaceable.
A closer look at the history of Notre-Dame helps one view the recent fire in context. Notre-Dame as we know it was finished by 1260, after a century of construction. But before this current building, and dating back to the 4th century A.D., there had been in the same location four separate churches, each one replacing its predecessor. And the earliest of these was, in turn, preceded by a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter.
The cathedral survived desecration during the French Revolution. After serious neglect and dilapidation, Notre-Dame was greatly revived in the public interest when Victor Hugo published Notre-Dame de Paris (translated into English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame) in 1831. This led to a major restoration of the cathedral over a 20-year period beginning in 1844. Notre-Dame remained intact and virtually undamaged through two world wars, and has been cleaned and restored numerous times throughout its history. In fact she was just undergoing yet another cleaning and restoration when the fire of April 2019 occurred. By a miracle, the copper statues of the twelve apostles which surrounded the base of the spire had been removed from the roof just a few days before the fire as part of the restoration.
Seen against the background of the cathedral’s varied and checkered past, the recent fire can be considered in a more positive and optimistic light.
It is certain that Notre-Dame will rise again and, based on historical precedent, will be greater than ever.
IMAGES OF NOTRE-DAME FOR YOUR HOME
This article was initially written in response to the requests we received for prints and canvases of Notre-Dame. It’s understandable that people want to be reminded of the cathedral as they knew it. The photos are also of historical value. Some of the images in this blog post are available as prints on archival paper, or as canvas gallery wraps, in a full range of sizes in our shop. You can simply click on them to go to the listing for details. There are also many that have not yet been added to the shop, so if you try to click on them, nothing will happen. These are all available as prints and canvases, in color and black and white. If you come across one or more that you would like to have, but don’t find it listed in the shop, just contact us with the details of your requirement.
Contributing to the restoration of Notre-Dame
The international response to fundraising has been immediate and generous. If you want to contribute to the restoration and rebuilding of Notre-Dame, there are official charities established for this purpose. Even though some individuals and organizations are donating millions or billions of dollars to the cause, every contribution will be appreciated and come in useful in what will be very major project.
Thanks very much for reading. We would love you to leave a comment and share this blog post with friends or anyone you think might be interested. If you have questions, we do read and answer every comment and question.
Georgianna and David