Post Five: Fire and Rain (the James Taylor song)

When people think of Paris, they likely think of the Eiffel Tower, but since I already did that I will talk about what people probably should be thinking about when they think of Paris: Notre-Dame. The cathedral of Notre-Dame, located on Île de la Cité, is the beating heart of Paris and by extension France. In fact, the legal geographic center of Paris and point zero of France is located in the Parvis of Notre-Dame directly in front of the main door on the west-facing façade. Notre-Dame is the epitome of iconic and continues to awe people too this day.

Although a church has been located on the site since the 4th century CE, construction of the cathedral we know today began in 1163 CE. The structure was built in phases; the first part completed was the choir and clerestory in the 1180s, followed by the nave in 1200. The cathedral utilized the very cool and very gothic technique of flying buttresses which distribute the weight of the top of the structure to the ground gradually similarly to the function of an arch. The cathedral was “finished” in 1345, but additions and changes would be made in the years to follow. The revolution was particularly rough on Notre-Dame, resulting in its desecration, reconsideration as a “Temple of Reason”, then reverted back into a church, made into a minor basilica, and then poorly maintained for years. A restoration and rehabilitation project was launched in 1844 to fix up Notre-Dame and, thanks to the work of Violette-le-Duc, add a few features that he felt were missing including recreations of missing medieval sculptures, a suspiciously Violette-le-Duc shaped bronze statue of St. Thomas, and a fancy new spire that, despite its lack of structural and functional necessity, became an iconic part of the image of Notre-Dame. The cathedral remained this way until 2019 when a tragic fire destroyed the roof and much of the structural integrity of the nave ceiling. Thankfully, the cathedral was saved and is currently in the midst of another massive restoration project set to be complete in late 2024.

I drew Notre-Dame with some added details (sorry about the spire, Prof. Smith.)

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