Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Oct 15, Part 4 - Notre Dame: In the ambulatory

The ambulatory is the the area where you can walk around the east (apse) end of a Christian church. The altar is in the apse, and the ambulatory makes a path around it. Many small churches don't have ambulatories, but most or many cathedrals and really large churches do. In Notre Dame there are a lot of things to see here. There are chapels around the outside as well as a model of the cathedral. I don't have much to say about this group of photos. I hope they speak for themselves. Notre Dame was beautiful, peaceful, maybe a little more crowded than I would have liked, but hey - we were here off-season, I can't even imagine what it's like when it's peak time for tourists. It was cold and drizzly outside, and warm and inviting inside. One of the things I tried to capture in these photos is the decoration on the pillars and walls. It all means something. I couldn't begin to say what, and you may have to look closely at the dark columns, to find some of the emblems and designs.

I like this picture a lot, but I'm not sure who he is. I love the way the blue jewel catches the light. I've looked in the Blue Gide and the Michelin Green guide, and all I could find is that he could be one of the 18th-19th Century prelates buried there. Clearly, I have one more reason to go back to Paris :) I'm sure it's written on the tomb somewhere. Also, Geoffrey Plantagenet is buried near here. If you saw The Lion in Winter, you'll remember the Plantagenet boys, sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine.

This, of course, is a model of Notre Dame.

And this is a model of Notre Dame under construction. It was started in 1163, and was completed about 1365. That's reasonably fast; some cathetrals took several hundred years longer than that. Notre Dame was one of the earliest examples of a church with thin walls and glass windows that reached for the heavens. Along with the pointed arches and details of the trim, this would become known as the Gothic style. Scroll down on this page to 1163 for some chronology. Later today we would see the Abbey of Saint-Denis - the earliest experiment in Gothic design.

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