May 25, 2012

How to decipher Notre Dame de Paris

Taxi drivers tell me that their most requested destination is Notre Dame de Paris. The cathedral will be celebrating its 850th anniversary this December. What better reasons to take a closer look myself?

It was the first place both my mother AND my mother-in-law wanted to visit when they came to stay. My mum still remembers watching the Queen on telly visiting the cathedral decades ago.

The façade of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is an icon known throughout the world. Our guide told us first off that we needed to be looking in 3D. Up, down and beyond - certainly not at her - while she shared the secrets hidden in plain sight in the facade's architecture, their sculptures and stained glass windows.

She enlightend us about gothic style, the rose windows and the pointed arches leading our eyes up by optical illusion. We learnt about heavenly elements contrasting with material shapes in form of circles and squares. We went from portal to cathedra (the bishop's throne).

For a whole 90 minutes our wonderfully passionate New Yorker (married to a francais) guide enchanted us with explanations about The Holy Trinity, the Old Testament, the New Testament, the promise of the past leading to the fullfillment of the future. She told us about the Angels, the Apostels, Isaac & Abraham, Adam & Eve, David & Goliath, the Saints of Paris and even Queen Sheeba. She revealed repesentations of the Liberal Arts, the zodiac, devils, dragons and hidden snakes. At this point we hadn't even entered into cathedral yet.

Now, should your children ever say visiting a cathedral is boring - think again kids! There is a whole load of action to be found in the facade of Notre Dame de Paris, you just need the right person to unveil it.

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