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3.26.2007 - 51 comments 

One of the most awesome and breathtaking buildings I have ever seen was this one. Even though it is really hard to get the idea of how large and truly breathtaking the architecture is, one has to really be there to get the true feeling of not only the spiritualness of this place, to say nothing of its shear mass (no pun intended)!

I remember sitting many nights in a little sidewalk cafe along the Seine River just looking at this building (while having a very strong cup of caffe late) and noticing its thousands and thousands of bricks and mortar wondering how in the world they ever built this place. (I still wonder about that fact to this day.)

Notre Dame De Paris is a prominent landmark on the Île de la Cité. Which is for the little city little on which it sits. (Imaging Manhatten Island only much smaller. The seine flows on both sides of the Île de la Cité, hence the term "Left Bank" and "Right Bank." Actually... cutting the city into two halves; the Right Bank, to the north, and the Left Bank, to the south.
Though constructed in three stages, the cathedral was completed in 1250. This period witnessed Paris coming into its own force as a center of political power and commerce. No expense was spared in creating a church that would reflect the capital's newly won prestige. These were the 'development' years of early Gothic architecture, it was essential that Paris should contain an impressive cathedral featuring innovations to surpass such smaller towns as Sens and Noyon. An advantage which Paris possessed over other sites, was that the construction efforts were supported and encouraged by the the king, Louis VII.

They say that it does not belittle other cathedrals to refer to Notre Dame de Paris as the 'World Ambassador of Gothic Cathedrals.' History's winding ways have already decreed as much. For many, their first concept of Gothic derives from some reference to this grand structure. It matters not whether we have physically visited Notre Dame, or not... its persona dominates the Gothic landscape. Victor Hugo's famous novel featuring the moving characterization of the hunchback, Quasimodo, has served the notoriety of the cathedral well. Yet, factual history has claimed this aged lady as a prominent figure near the center stage of its own story.

Notre Dame de Paris, more than seven hundred years old, is only the most recent of holy houses to occupy this ancient sacred ground. The Celts held their services on this island in the seine, and atop their sacred groves the Romans built their own temple to Jupiter. In the early years of Christianity, a basilica dedicated to St. Etienne was constructed around 528 by Childebert. A church in the Romanesque manner replaced the basilica, and this stood until 1163 when work began on the structure which stands today.

Even though I took lots and lots of pictures at Notre Dame, this one was always special to me and seemed to remind me most of those nights in Paris gazing at it over the stronest cup of coffee in the world. They may call it coffee but, I would call it expresso. Starbucks... eat your heart out!

"And the cathedral was not only company for him, it was the universe; nay, more, it was Nature itself. He never dreamed that there were other hedgerows than the stained-glass windows in perpetual bloom; other shade than that of the stone foliage always budding, loaded with birds in the thickets of Saxon capitals; other mountains than the colossal towers of the church; or other oceans than Paris roaring at their feet." —Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris, 1831