Title: Cathedale Notre-Dame de Chartes
Location: Paris, France
Called the high point of French Gothic art by UNESCO, which designated the Chartes cathedral a World Heritage Site, the two towers of Notre-Dame dominate the Western façade creating a dynamic vertical movement, echoed by the pointed arches of the openings and the three protruding columns ascending most of the length of the towers.
The cathedral is harmoniously composed of thirds to reflect the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost. The three horizontal levels of the façade are delineated, and three windows above the entrance echo the three portals. The result is the cathedral conveys a sense of earthly power that soars upward yet is also grounded.
The cathedral is situated on the tallest hill in the city of Chartres and dominates the view of the city, reflecting its importance not only as the centre of religious life but as a hub of economic and social life in its functions as a marketplace. Earlier buildings had been destroyed in fires and the cathedral is the fifth church to be built on the site, a noted place of pilgrimage that was believed to house the Sancta Camisa.
The building of the final cathedral begun in 1160, occurred in a relatively brief period resulting in a remarkable cohesive style. Innovations such as flying buttresses, rose-windows, many of the smaller stained-glass windows and the sculptures around the portals now exemplify Gothic style.
Notre-Dame de Paris meaning ‘Our Lady of Paris’ is a medieval Catholic cathedral on the Ile de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. It is consecrated to the Virgin Mary and is one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The pioneering use of rib vault and flying buttress and the enormous rose windows as well as the naturalism and vast sculptural decoration set it apart from earlier Romanesque styles. It also houses one of the world’s largest organs and immense church bells.
The cathedral’s construction was largely complete by 1260, however it was modified frequently in the following centuries. In the 1790s Notre Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution destroying or damaging much of the religious imagery. In the 19th century the cathedral was the site of the coronation of Napoleon I and the funerals of many of the Presidents of the Republic.
After the publication of Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame in 1831 popular interest in the cathedral blossomed. This increased interest led to a major restoration project between 1844 and 1864 under the charge of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. In 1944 to celebrate the liberation of Paris a choral of the Magnificat was performed in the cathedral. The cathedral façade was cleaned of centuries of grime and soot in 1963. And a cleaning and restoration project was carried out between 1991 and 2000.
Notre-Dame is one of the most recognized symbols of both Paris and France, and as the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, it contains the cathedra of the Archbishop of Paris. Notre-Dame was given the honorary status of a minor basilica in 1805 and is renowned for the Lent sermons founded by Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire in the 1860s. In recent years these addresses have been given by leading public figures and academics.
Over the centuries the cathedral has been progressively stripped of its original décor and works of art. However, noteworthy examples of Gothic, Baroque, 19th-century sculptures and several 17th and 18th-century altarpieces remain in the collection of Notre-Dame. Relics of Christendom such as the Crown of Thornes, a sliver of the cross and nail from the cross are preserved at the cathedral.
On 15 April 2019, while undergoing renovation and restoration, the roof of Notre-Dame caught fire. Burning for over 15 hours, the damage to the cathedral was substantial, including the loss of the fleche, a timber spire over the crossing) and most of the lead-covered wooden roof above the stone vaulted ceiling. The French parliament passed a law that Notre-Dame is to be rebuilt exactly as it appeared before the fire despite many proposals for modernizing the building.
©JG Farmer 2019