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Notre Dame de Paris

By Valorie Bourke

Notre Dame de Paris is an early gothic style church that begun construction in 1163. This style made it a fashion for other cities and towns during this time. It is considered the most monumental work erected in the west at that time.

            During the 12th and 13th century, there were four major construction campaigns that lead to four different builders that were a major part in building the magnificent cathedral. The first major construction campaign was done by Maurice de Sully. He built the choir in 1163-1182. He was said to be the one who built a new road and knocked down houses to transport material for the cathedral. He also knocked down the former Saint Stephens church and started building the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral in its place. In 1196, Maurice de Sully passed away and his successor, Eudes de Sully took over.

The second and third major construction campaign was overlooked by Eudes de Sully. He was not related to Maurice de Sully, the former bishop. These major campaigns constructed the last three bays in the nave, which connected the two bays to the upper façade and the Gallery of Kings, along with the side aisles, and the tribunes.  This began in 1182 and ended around 1225. Eudes de Sully died around 1208. He did not see the completion of the third campaign.

The west façade was started in the third major construction campaign around 1200. There were two towers built: the North tower which was completed around 1220 and the South tower completed around 1250. The west façade is divided into three equal horizontal bands: the three doorways, the rose window, and the blind arcades. It has dimensions of 41 m wide, 43 m high up to the base of the towers, and 63 m up to the top of the towers.

The fourth construction campaign began in 1225 and lasted until 1250. This campaign modified and expanded the upper windows and fitting out the nave side chapels between the flying buttresses. It also brought about the rose window and the great halls beneath the towers.

            The original floor plan of the Notre Dame de Paris did not include the flying buttresses around the choir and the nave. The cathedral was the first building in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). Once the construction began, and the walls grew thinner and higher, stress fractures began to form on the walls pushing them outward. So the architects had to build supports around the outside walls to prevent the fractures from destroying the cathedral. All the later additions continued the pattern of the flying buttresses and the support around the outside walls.

Inside the early gothic style church, Notre Dame de Paris, can hold up to ten thousand people. The strong vertical lines and the airy atmosphere represent the essence of the gothic style taste. The nave (which is the central longitudinal area of a church, extending from the entrance to the apse and flanked aisles) rises to a height of 115 feet from the pavement to the vaulting. The nave is divided into three equal tiers: the nave, and double aisles, the open spectator gallery above the aisles, and at the top, the clerestory-the luminous window zone.

            The Notre Dame de Paris has been through a lot over the years as it has been completed. It has gone through a lot of renovations to keep the style of the church alive. It also went through WWII and is still standing today. The cathedral is still used today as a worship center for individuals. They offer mass to everyone and does not cost anything to attend. The mass is in French but there is one mass at 11:30 a.m. that has some readings in English.

The gothic architecture of the building caught my eye as I read the chapters in our humanities book. The name of the church is French for “Our Lady of Paris,” the Virgin Mary. I thought it was different to have a church named for the Virgin Mary and not for saints or anyone else. It is defiantly different from any other church that I have ever seen before and throughout the unit.  

Works cited page

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 25 Feb 2011 Wikipedia Foundation, Inc.


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris. Nathalie Bittendiebel. Diocese de Paris. 07 March 2011.



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Notre Dame de Paris

By LaVonsaye Wilkerson

The Notre Dame which is French for (Our Lady) is located in Paris France. It has been considered the most famous cathedral of its time.  It was the first to use the Monumental Style of Aritechture. The Cathedral was ordered to be built by Bishop Maurice de Sully it has been stated because he felt that the previous cathedral Saint-Étienne was no longer suited for its role and he wanted another one built using the New Gothic Style. The first construction of the cathedral took place in the year 1163 it is believed to be during the reign of Louis VII but not proven. But it was overseen until its completion by Eudes de Sully after the bishop’s death.  Several architects worked on the formation of the original cathedral and also the reconstruction as well. Jean de Chelles was the first know architect to be recorded for his work on the cathedral. It is composed of six different features including: nave, aisle, transept, apse, choir and the narthex. I first viewed a photo of the cathedral in my Western Humanities Book on page 261 but I do remember learning about it in High School. To this day the cathedral is still in a well maintained condition and still in use. 

During the beginning of the creation of the cathedral the builders anticipated to give it an Early Gothic Style. This is shown in the way the Façade is divided into three equal doorways. Within each doorway is a sculpture that is symbolic to the Goyles. The materials used during the construction include but are not limited to Limestone, Mortar, and Wood. The cathedral is enormous in size it is 35 meters tall, 130 meters long and 48 meters wide. It consists of high arches inside the vaults and several vertical lines leaving plenty of space.  The Nave is said to be the highest vault in the whole cathedral as stated on page 259 in the Western Humanities Book it is 115Ft . Also the choir pays a major part in the Early Gothic style upon its completion its walls had no support, but as time passed along the walls began to receive damage such as cracks. During this time the Flying Buttresses was added to the cathedral.

The Notre Dame was said to be damaged by the Huguenots in the year 1548. After Notre Dame’s remodeling the builders started to develop a new style of art which later became known as Rayonnant. In which walls weren’t used anymore a new relevant form of light was used called stained glass surrounded by different types of stone. One of the components used during this style was the Rose Window.  The windows in the cathedral all have some influence from Religion whether it is Mary or Jesus Christ. Also the windows are tall not only in height but in angle making the celling seems larger.

In conclusion, upon researching the Notre Dame I have learned a lot about the Cathedral. The New Gothic style combined with the Rose Windows has truly fascinated me. I love the tall ceilings of the building but what I like most of all is the Goyles. It’s just the thought that they can build this cathedral and base it on Religion but have evil demons guarding the tops of it. In a way I think the Notre Dame was a sacred place to many people who were lost not only in their religion but in their self. I’m very big on Mary and Jesus but I just think that they shouldn’t have combined the demons into the whole concept. Overall I enjoyed learning about the Notre Dame.

                              Works Cited Page

http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/2250357?ref=W_Ask&utm_s… ask.com/wiki/Notre_Dame_de_Paris

The Western Humanities Book by Roy T. Matthews, F.Dewitt Platt, and  Thomas X. Noble

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Speyer Cathedral

By Katie White

The Imperial Cathedral Bascilica of the Assumption or the Speyer Cathedral in Speyer, German is one of the largest and most significant Romanesque church in Germany.  Initially built by the emperorers, it was to be their final resting place.  Conrad II (Koenraad) began work on the church in 1030, only to die before it’s completion.  While constant restorations have disrupted the original interior, the Lombard bands that made it spectacular long ago are still beautiful.  Five restorations have left the silhouette of the building balance by pairs of tall towers.  With domes at each end, a  nave at the one end and chancel on the other, create an equality between the end blocks.  And current restorations which are estimated to be completed in 2015, are working to restore numerous artifacts that were removed from the cathedral in the 1950’s. 

A typical Romanesque floor plan included a cruciform floor plan, complete with a narthex (entrance), towers, nave (central part of the church), side aisles, transept (arms or wings on sides) and apse (round head at the top).  Speyer Cathedral is no different.  The red sandstone, which gives off yellowish and red tones, used for the building is thought to have been shipped from the mountains to Speyer and create a striking site.  Consecrated in 1061, a new phase of construction created many changes including the nave being covered with a flat wood ceiling, which was later replaced with a groin vault, which is produced by the intersection at right angles of two barrel vaults.  The aisles were vaulted and pronounced the second larges vaulted building after the Aachen Cathedral.  The apse was round inside but rectangular on the outside, a new technique. 

 During the five restoration another change included and external “dwarf gallery”, which surrounds the top of the apse.  The dwarf galley goes around the entire building, just below the roof line. Another goes around the east and west domes. The gallery opening matches the size of the tower windows and the exterior of the cathedral is ‘uniform’.  When Speyer II was completed in 1106 the length of the cathedral was 440 feet by 141 feet and was one of the largest buildings of it’s time. 

 Also included in the cathedral lies a crypt.  Initially a small chamber, the crypt became a hall crypt , a large space, subdivided by columns.  The crypt in Speyer Cathedral is the largest Romanesque hall crypt in Europe.  In addition to Conrad II, the bodies of Salian, Staufer and Habsburg are here, making a total of more than 8 emperors and kings.

 The original floor plan held seven chapels.  A large double chapel is also housed in the cathedral on the southern side.  It, like the rest of the building has undergone numerous renovations, but was restored to it’s original condition in 1961.  On the northern side of the cathedral is the chapel of Saint Afra.  Now, one is a baptistery and one is a chapel now, respectively.  The others have been renovated into different structures during the various renovations.

And finally, the Speyer Cathedral holds a chime, composed of nine bells!  Four were originally placed in 1822, while the other five were put in the belfry of the west dome in 1963.

The weathered copper that covers the naves and domes are now pale green, but the beauty of the structure still shines.  And while this huge cathedral is in great difference to the still small village of Speyer, I think even in this time and place, the huge cathedral in this small place shows how the church thought of itself being the largest and most important building in the area.  At the time, religion was the main focus in most peoples lives and the impressive cathedral further impressed upon them the importance of religion.   While religion is not a huge part of my daily life, it is an integral part of my being and I can imagine that if given the opportunity I would love to tour this historic site as the vastness and impressive beauty of it still commands the attention of those near and far. 







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Architecture: The Basilica of St Denis

By Tracey Thompson

The Basilica of St Denis is a church and tomb located in Paris, France.  It became famous when it was redesigned and rebuilt by Abot Suger in 1144.  The tomb of the Basilica of St Denis is also quite famous because it was the burial place for many French kings.  The Basilica of St Denis can be viewed online at various websites or in Paris, as it is still standing and being toured.  The Basilica of St Denis originally built in the Romanesque style, when it was redesigned it reflected the new Gothic styles.

The Basilica of St Denis is sometimes referred to as the beginning of the Gothic architecture style because it was one of the first buildings to feature so many Gothic elements.   The way that the church is designed gives a strong sense of space.  The sense of space is somewhat attributed to the many windows which let in natural light, and give the building a feeling of openness.   The windows of the Basilica of St Denis are also an important Gothic feature, because it was the first building to have stained glass “rose” windows.  These windows are made up of multiple circular windows arranged to form the shape of a rose; they are also stained in deep hues of blues, purples, and reds. 

The design of the Basilica of St Denis is also based on biblical themes.  The massive windows which allow such a sense of space are based on the biblical phrase “let there be light”.  The building is also designed with the north/south and east/west naves crossing so that the entire building forms the shape of the cross.

Although the Basilica of St Denis was redesigned to feature the Gothic architectural style, some of the Romanesque style is still present.  The pointed arches, multiple columns clustered, and the ribbed vaults are all dominate elements of the Romanesque style.  The Basilica of St Denis evokes such a strong feeling of empowerment.  It was built so massive and with materials which are so strong and heavy that you can just feel the strength and know that this is a building that may last forever.  But, at the same time, all of the intricate details of the windows and the ribbed vaults make me feel that this is a very intimate and feminine structure.  Overall, the Basilica of St Denis is simply a work of art, through the architectural design, the structure, and the beauty of the details.

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Amiens Cathedral

By Kristen Stinson

The Amiens Cathedral is located in Amiens, France. The construction on the building started in 1200 and all major construction ceased in 1266, however other structures, such as the labyrinth, were added up to 1288. It is the tallest standing cathedral in France and, in my opinion, the most sumptuous.

            The Amiens Cathedral is a perfect example of High Gothic style architecture. The cathedral was planned to have the flying buttresses integrated into the overall design. Although this addition adds to the majesty of the building, the flying buttresses proved to be placed too high to be functional. They had to counteract this by placing sturdier flying buttresses lower around the outer wall, which added to the ornamental design.

            The artistry put into the design of this cathedral is captivating. The lower section has three porches laced with intricate designs around the borders and 22 life-size king statues lined up beneath the rose window. The western portals of the Amiens Cathedral are famous for their ornate sculptures of saints and eschatological scenes. It was discovered in the 1990s that these figures and designs were once painted in a multitude of color. They recreated this color using special lighting techniques, where they project the different colored lights onto the designs, to bring the façade to life. This can be seen at the Son et lumière during the Christmas Fair and on New Years and we can view a picture of it on Wikipedia (“Amiens Cathedral”).

            The interior of the building is just as magnificent as the exterior. It has 126 pillars supporting the interior and some of the original stained glass in the nave and chancel survived the wars it has witnessed. The choir is decorated with polychrome sculpture and bordered by several chapels. It contains art and décor from several periods since the cathedral was built, including The Baptist Head and the polychrome sculptures mentioned before. The baroque pulpit is the centerpiece for the nave of the cathedral and was created of gilded wood and marble. You can view pictures of these marvelous works of art on Wikipedia.com.

            The sheer size of the Amiens Cathedral is breathtaking. Although compared to other cathedrals of this period, it is moderately sized, I imagine standing in front of it would inspire a spiritual feeling even in the biggest agnostic or atheist. My first encounter with this majestic building was in The Western Humanities textbook on page 264. The cathedral is shown from an aerial view of the back and shows the beauty the outward appearance of the support structures.

            My first impression of this building was awe and I can only imagine the feelings it would invoke if viewed in person. I was captivated by the sheer size and intricate design of the Amiens Cathedral. I have always been in love with Gothic style architecture and this cathedral is one of the most entrancing I have seen. The sharp edges and intricate design work gives it character and the stunning sculptures and stained glass bring the structure to life.

Works Cited

“Amiens Cathedral.” Wikipedia. Wikipedia:The Free Encyclopedia, 15 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Feb. 2011.

Matthews, Roy T., Noble, Thomas F.X., and Platt, F. Dewitt. The Western Humanities. New York: McGraw Hill, 2011. Print.

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Notre Dame Cathedral

By Mike Shoopman

The Notre Dame Cathedral is a beautiful piece of history. The full name of this amazing building is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, which translated is “Our Lady of Paris” (Hayes). As the full name states, the Notre Dame Cathedral is located in Paris, France. Construction began in 1163 and was mostly finished by 1250. There were multiple architects that had a hand in building the Notre Dame Cathedral (Hayes). This magnificent building is in great shape, with a major restoration beginning in 1991 and continuing into the 21st century (Hayes). I viewed the Notre Dame Cathedral on the internet at sacred-destinations.com.

            The Notre Dame Cathedral is mainly made of the stone from the area around Paris (Cedron). The stone was cut into the general shape the builders needed it to be at the quarry and then transported to the building site in order to cut done on the cost of transportation (Cedron). Limestone was used for building as well as for the sculptures. The sculptures on the interior first floor of the cathedral had a thin layer of gold paint covering them up until the mid-fifteenth century (Matthews, Platt, and Noble 262).

            The size of this masterpiece causes a sense of awe and amazement; it can hold up to ten thousand people inside (Matthews, Platt, and Noble 259). The beauty of this building fits perfectly into the landscape of Paris adding to the classiness of the city.

            The interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral is just as magnificent as the outside. The beautiful sculptures and stained-glass windows are amazing works of art that each tell a story. The size of the cathedral is also evident from the inside. The enormous size of the choir and the nave are mind-boggling. From the pavement of the nave up to the vaulting is 115 feet.

            The beauty, the history, the stories told in throughout the building in the art, and its association with Christianity is what caught my attention. After seeing the pictures and researching the Notre Dame Cathedral, I would really like to go and visit it sometime in the future, even if I have to wait until I am old and hunchbacked.

Works Cited

Cedron, Rhey. “Notre Dame de Paris.” elore.com. N.p. n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2011.

Hayes, Holly. “Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.” sacred-destinations.com., 29 Mar. 2010 ed., N.p. n.d. Web. 22 Feb. 2011

Matthews, Roy T., F. DeWitt Platt, and Thomas R.X. Noble. The Western Humanities: Seventh Edition. New York: McGraw Hill, 1992. Print.

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Sainte Chapelle

By Kim Riordan

The Sainte Chapelle is perhaps the most splendid illustration of Rayonnant style of Gothic design. It was established by King Louis IX to display Christian artifacts, such as Crown of Thorns, and a piece of the True Cross. Construction began in January, 1246 and was completed on April 25, 1248. The architect most credited to the Sainte Chapelle is known as Pierre de Montreuil. The Chapelle suffered much damage during the French Revolution. However, it was completely restored by Jean Baptiste Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. Sainte Chappelle is on the Ile de la Cité in the middle of the Seine River in Paris, France. One may tour this marvelous Gothic creation at http://fromparis.com/panoramas_quicktime_vr/sainte_chapelle_02/. The Sainte Chapelle is now part of the main tourist attraction in Paris, permitting tourists to enter in both the upper and lower chapels.

             Sainte Chappelle is a small church containing of an upper and lower chapel that’s entirely inside the barriers of the old royal palace, which is now the Palace of Justice. The church’s small size allows for it to architecturally achieve a number of things that make it so distinct, including the great height of the upper chapel. You can see the unique way the architect used the flying buttresses. The slenderness of the Sainte Chapelle meant that the flying buttresses didn’t have to be so enormous. Instead the architect carefully designed the exterior to collaborate with the interior design. Consequently the walls were no longer the main supports; therefore huge areas of stained glass could be used in the Gothic design. Sainte Chapelle is recognized for its stained-glass windows, covering 6,456 square feet. These grand stained glass windows provide a sense of precision, color and space. Sainte Chapelle’s structure is 118 ft. long, 56 ft. wide and 139 ft. high. The exterior design emphases on the basics, a moderate base with small buttresses contrasting with the rising weightlessness of the upper parts. The slate roof has a cedar spire that measures 108 ft. high. The well-designed proportions and brightness of the upper chapel, its 15 superb stained-glass windows, separated only by thin columns practically from floor to ceiling, and its richly painted columns and panels create the effect of an absolute radiance of color and light. The upper chapel was mainly used for the king, his family members and very close friends , as well as for displaying the religious artifacts.

            The lower chapel is devoted to the Virgin Mary. This part of the Sainte Chapelle was built for the servants who worked for the king. As you can see in the photo below, the vaulted ceilings rested on

 columns with crocket capitals, connected by anchor supports made of wood and stone. The walls are decorated with an arcade of trefoil arches. Vibrant colors of red, blue and gold are used to decorate this fine chapel. The floor contains tombstones of past treasurers and reverends of the chapel.

            What drew my attention to the Sainte Chapelle is its combination of use with light, color, and space mixed with fine art and spiritual faith. The chapel consists of beautiful vaulted ceiling, stained glass windows, rich decorations and striking statues. This is truly an architectural structure that should be appreciated not only from the exterior, but the interior as well. I also was fascinated by the use of the stain glass window, which contains scenes from the Old Testaments.

Works Cited     






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