Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Notre-Dame

Our final stop on today's Paris sightseeing was none other than Notre-Dame.

Crusaders prayed here before leaving for the holy wars. Napoleon crowned himself emperor on site and then crowned his wife, Josephine, empress. When Paris was liberated during World War II, General de Gaulle rushed to his cathedral to give thanks. Construction started in 1163 and was completed in the 14th century. Talk about a mix of old and new world. There was a photo shoot taking place out front with a model in a full length fur coat, even though it was in the 80's today. You can see her in the photo above, with a lighting person holding a black reflective screen up in front of her. She must have been roasting and it looked quite ridiculous to us, but she was smiling away in an effort to take the perfect photo.Angry citizens pillaged Notre-Dame during the French Revolution, mistaking religious statues above the portals on the west front for representations of kings and beheading them.
Astrid flipping through our Notre-Dame guidebook.
Built in the age of illiteracy, the cathedral windows tell the stories of the Bible in its portals, paintings, and stained glass.
Uwe and Astrid pictured in front of carved wooden panels depicting the appearances of the risen Christ.
Christ appearing to Peter and John on the left, and to the disciples of Emmaus on the right.

Another set of carved wooden panels illustrates the life of Jesus from birth to crucifixion. More beautiful stained glass. I find it interesting that it was originally constructed to tell the story to people who could not read, however since pictures are a universal language, now it tells the story to people from around the world who visit and don't speak the same language.

Another photo of the outside of Notre-Dame.

We also visited the treasury room which has heirlooms from the ages inside, all of religious significance. They claim to have the crown of thorns worn by Christ. Our guidebook states, "It is impossible to say for certain if it is authentic, although historical indications to its authenticity can be found from the 4th century." Once we read that, the first word that came out of Uwe's mouth was "B*llsh*t!" but we still wanted to see it just for amusement sake, but for some reason (which the French lady at the treasury room entrance could not properly explain) it was closed to visitors today. They also have a vial with old blood in it. I can't read French and it wasn't in our guidebook, so I don't know if they claim it was the blood of Christ or a saint. Astrid fast asleep, while I'm sitting on the bench behind her.

When we visit again, I would like to go up in the belltower. It wasn't possible to go up the narrow flight of stairs with the baby in her stroller (not allowed anyway), so one of us would have had to stay down with the baby. It's something that I'd like to experience with Uwe. And if we go back when Astrid is older, she'd get a lot out of it as well.

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