Friday, September 21, 2007

Notre Dame

My architecture class visited Notre Dame today. Our teacher described the process of building the church - including the structure and layout of the church. She described how all the detailing on the front (the figures) have special meanings. The images on the far left arch of the church show two different paths of one's life - being welcomed to heaven for attending church and being condemned to hell for not attending church. Seeing as the people in medieval times were illiterate seeing the images convinced them to attend church regularly to ensure a good after life. I never realized how much thought went into every detail in a building. The end result is a beautiful creation but it's crazy to think about how much planning had to happen.

The gargoyles protruding from the church are actually rain gutters. It was important to devise a way to get the water off the roof of the building to protect the roof from being damaged. There is actually one gargoyle who represents the financier of the project - apparently he didn't pay up and the builder was upset and depicted his head as a gargoyle.

My class climbed to the top of the church (well not the very top – it was closed for the day) and had the most beautiful view of Paris. We were well above the city and could see the Eiffel Tower, the Invalides, Sacre Coure, and Sainte Chapelle. We also climbed up one of the bell towers and saw the original bell. I believe my teacher said the bell itself weighed 13,000 kilograms (I could be wrong about that) and the ringer (I don’t know the actual name) weighs 5000. Holy Moly!!! Our teacher also showed us the buttresses outside the church that support it. It’s thought provoking to think of how architects and engineers were able to create such an impressive building many centuries ago. Notre Dame was the largest religious building in the western world until the 13th century. Construction began in 1163 and although parts have been restored the original structure and layout have not been changed.

No comments: