Architecture Around the World

Façade - Notre Dame Cathedral
Paris France
Notre Dame Cathedral - Table of Contents

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Gothic style

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compound arch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

King Louis VII must be considered among the handful of influential figures during the rise of the Gothic style in France. It is certain that without the influence of the King's support, Abbot Suger would never have realized his vision of reconstructing Saint-Denis. At the
Abby of Saint-Denis, the sparks of inspiration were kindled which would ignite the fires of the cathedral building age. Some twenty years later, the king lent this same support to the construction of the new cathedral of Paris. Louis supported the work with generous and gracious contributions. Clearly he had motivations for strengthening France's eminence as the stronghold of Christendom, but his piety must be considered authentic in the perspective of history.

Source: Earthlore



Notre-Dame is the Paris Catholic cathedral since the Middle Ages. Maurice de Sully, the Paris bishop at the time, started its construction in 1163. Its building went on for two centuries. Most of the work (architects, sculptors) is anonymous.

Notre-Dame is 130 meters long, 48 meters wide and 35 meters high. Its pillars have a diameter of up to 5 meters and its rose windows 10 meters. The twin towers culminate 69 meters and 386 stairs above the ground. The south tower houses the 13 tons Emmanuel bell.

Source: Paris Digest


Notre-Dame (is) probably the most famous image in French Gothic art. The Paris facade (1200-50) seems locked into a severe pattern, with restrained formal shifts and restricted movement in depth. Rather than generating strong vertical energy, the portals, windows, and tracery gallery of its main block are gathered into a square, subdivided by a few strong vertical and horizontal elements into a gridlike pattern with the rose window at the center. The monumental strength of the façade is unforgettable, but its progressiveness is less than obvious. Yet, it is present in the intellectual rigor, concentrated sculptural density, and subtle progression of weight and texture from the lower to the upper parts."

Source: Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p. 242 / Great Buildings


Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris...was seminal in the evolution of the French Gothic style. It is 110 ft highñthe first cathedral built on a truly monumental scale. With its compact, cruciform plan, its sexpartite vaulting, flying buttresses and vastly enlarged windows, it became a prototype for future French cathedrals.

Source: John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of The World. p. 11 / Great Buildings.


The original plan comprised double aisles and ambulatories and was on a bent axial line. The transepts, as so often in the Paris region, did not project beyond the aisle wall. The interior elevation was originally of four levels, with an arcade of columnar piers; a tribune, originally covered with transverse barrel vaults, and lit by round windows; decorative oculi opening into the tribune roof spaces; and small clerestory windows. The high vault is sexpartite, covering double bays. The vault is very highñjust over 30 m (100 ft)ñand the wall which supports it very thin and articulated by very slender 'en délit' (face-bedded) shafts. Double-span flying buttresses support the nave. These are often said to be the earliest flying buttresses, though it is now clear that earlier buildings, for example Sens, also had them.

Source: Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. pp. 390, 394 / / Great Buildings


Notre-Dame [is] probably the most famous image in French Gothic art.

The Paris facade (1200-50) seems locked into a severe pattern, with restrained formal shifts and restricted movement in depth. Rather than generating strong vertical energy, the portals, windows, and tracery gallery of its main block are gathered into a square, subdivided by a few strong vertical and horizontal elements into a gridlike pattern with the rose window at the center. The monumental strength of the façade is unforgettable, but its progressiveness is less than obvious. Yet, it is present in the intellectual rigor, concentrated sculptural density, and subtle progression of weight and texture from the lower to the upper parts."

Source: Marvin Trachtenberg and Isabelle Hyman. Architecture: from Prehistory to Post-Modernism. p. 242 / Great Buildings.


Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris ...was seminal in the evolution of the French Gothic style. It is 110 ft highñthe first cathedral built on a truly monumental scale. With its compact, cruciform plan, its sexpartite vaulting, flying buttresses and vastly enlarged windows, it became a prototype for future French cathedrals.

Source: John Julius Norwich, ed. Great Architecture of The World. p. 116 / Great Buildings.


The original plan comprised double aisles and ambulatories and was on a bent axial line. The transepts, as so often in the Paris region, did not project beyond the aisle wall. The interior elevation was originally of four levels, with an arcade of columnar piers; a tribune, originally covered with transverse barrel vaults, and lit by round windows; decorative oculi opening into the tribune roof spaces; and small clerestory windows. The high vault is sexpartite, covering double bays. The vault is very highñjust over 30 m (100 ft)ñand the wall which supports it very thin and articulated by very slender 'en délit' (face-bedded) shafts. Double-span flying buttresses support the nave. These are often said to be the earliest flying buttresses, though it is now clear that earlier buildings, for example Sens, also had them."

Source: Sir Banister Fletcher. A History of Architecture. pp. 390, 394 / Great Buildings.



Photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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