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Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

Paris – Sacré Coeur

Posted in Europe  by admin on October 19th, 2009

The site of Sacré Coeur has long been an attraction for religious figures and groups. Though dedicated to peace and brotherhood, the building owes its birth on the site to the misfortunes of war and violence.

In the 3rd century, the first bishop of Paris, St Denys, was beheaded here. A Benedictine Abbey occupied the entire hill until rioters of the French Revolution burned it down.

During the Prussian War of 1870, the two Catholic businessmen who initiated the Sacré Coeur project wanted to build an offering should France survive the conflict.

The construction was approved and the site selected in 1872 by the then-archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Guibert. Financed predominantly by modest donations, work began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. Due to the outbreak of WWI, the consecration was delayed to 1919.

Despite its late-19th century origins, the architecture is a much older style. A mixture of Romanesque and Byzantine, the white, Oriental-style domes house a 19-ton bell (Savoyarde) and elaborate reliefs. Note: ‘Oriental’ does not mean ‘Asian’. The architecture of the Middle East is commonly known as ‘Oriental’.

Apart from its unusual (for the time and place) architectural style, the building has another unusual feature. The walls themselves actually get whiter with age. Made of travertine, a type of stone which leeches calcite, any accumulated soot and weathering gradually erode leaving the exterior a dazzling white.

The art work accompanying the building is alone worth the trip. The sculptures atop the entrance are bronze equestrian statues of Jeanne d’Arc (Joan of Arc) and King Louis. There are numerous mosaics and paintings covering the interior, including a large figure of the Virgin and Child. And, the ‘Christ in Majesty’ mosaic in the apse is one of the largest in the world.

The church is located in the north of Paris and rises 129 meters above-sea level. It is the second highest location after the Eiffel Tower. Sited next to the basilica is the still-standing 6th century St. Pierre de Montmartre church.

The building is a series of stepped-back rectangular walls pierced by several arches and capped by domes of varying sizes. Around the structure are complementary gardens and fountains, providing a peaceful site. That is, during those times when the grounds and building aren’t overcrowded, such as during the off-seasons or early in the morning.

From every angle without and many within the basilica is much more impressive than it generally receives credit for. Though a traditional style, the carvings and additions all form a harmonious whole. The golden mosaics give a glow to the interior that supports the site’s purpose as an area for contemplation.

From the grounds, high atop Paris, one can look out over the entire city and from within the dome there are equally impressive views. In the distance is the Eiffel Tower, and at dusk the combination of the onset of lights and the setting sun is spectacular.

Access to the site is challenging. There’s a metro (subway) station nearby at Abbesses. But, there are a great many steps leading up the hill to the basilica. The walk is eased somewhat by the funiculaire.

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All About Notre Dame

Posted in Europe, Sculptures & Monuments  by admin on September 14th, 2008

If you are visiting Paris, you will no doubt want to visit Notre Dame. Notre Dame is a famous landmark in the city and millions flock there each year to visit. Situated in the heart of Paris, this cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop and is known as one of the finest architectural masterpieces in the world. For those who visit the famous landmark, be sure to take in the sights and tour the cathedral during the day. However, you should also make sure to pass by the area at night as the view of the cathedral when lit up for the evening is positively spectacular.

The construction of Notre Dame began in 1163 and was completed circa 1345. During its construction there were many architects involved which is evidenced by the varying styles present in the completed cathedral. In the 1790’s much of the cathedral was ruined, especially the religious imagery and façade of the building. The French Revolution was the cause of this destruction but a restoration project was undertaken in the nineteenth century to restore the cathedral to its former magnificence. Victor Hugo, with his book The Hunchback of Notre Dame, brought attention to the restoration project, inciting many Parisians to donate to the restoration cause. The organ and the bells of Notre Dame are among the famous features of the cathedral.

For those interested in architecture, Notre Dame is a splendid example. The flying buttresses are among the first ever in that style. The stained glass and religious imagery abundant in the cathedral are a sight to be seen. The Gothic style brings a feeling of old world romance and reverence. The interior of the cathedral depicts the story of the bible with its stained glass and statuettes. Art and architecture buffs alike will appreciate the beauty and romance of Notre Dame.

For those who are interested in history, Notre Dame is rich in it. Kings have been crowned in the cathedral, royal marriages have taken place and saints have been canonized. Crusaders would come to Notre Dame to reflect and pray before embarking on a holy war. Napoleon and his wife Josephine were crowned emperor and empress in Notre Dame and Pope Pius VII officiated the service. Joan of Arc was canonized by the church in 1920.

Today, Roman Catholic masses are held in the cathedral as well as concerts featuring the famous Notre Dame Gregorian choir and the 7,800 pipe organ. For those interested in a moving spiritual experience, masses in the grand cathedral are awe inspiring. There are both week day and weekend masses available. Weekday masses are held in the main alter as well as in the choir. Sunday masses are all held in the main alter. If you have the opportunity to go to a Sunday mass with the Gregorian choir, this can be a magnificent experience not soon forgotten.

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Paris: Eiffel Tower

Posted in Europe, Sculptures & Monuments, Worldwide Travel Destinations  by admin on April 30th, 2008

The Eiffel Tower in Paris is one of the most remarkable symbols of Paris. The history that surrounds the creation of this monstrous and impressive tower is both full of conflicts and controversies, which makes it colorful in the whole sense.

Ultimately, the purpose of building the Eiffel Tower was for the Paris Exposition of 1889. A design competition was initiated for the purpose of choosing the most appropriate design for the soon-to-be erected tower. There have been 700 design entries. However, the entry submitted by a French structural engineer named Alexandre Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) was unanimously selected. Engineers Mauriche Koechlin and Emile Nouguier and Architect Stephen Sauvestre assisted in finishing this design.

One of the arguments raised regarding the creation of Eiffel Tower was a petition submitted to the city government by well-known personalities during that era including Maupassant, Emile Zola, Charles Garnier and Dumas the Younger. In their petition they regarded the Eiffel Tower as a useless and monstrous tower. Another group that questioned the construction of Eiffel tower was the nature lovers who deliberate that the tower will disturb the flight of birds in Paris. Read the rest of this entry »

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