Gargoyles of Notre-Dame de Paris

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Gargoyles of Notre-Dame de Paris

Gargoyles of Notre-Dame, Paris

LocationNotre dame, Paris is located on the east side of the island lle De la Cite. It was created around the centre of Paris where the original medieval city was founded.

Function and Significance Notre Dame has been a functioning Cathedral since it was first built in the 12th century. The church is a highly significant building throughout the history of Paris. From it's earliest days when Heraclius of Caesarea called for the Third Crusade whilst the Cathedral was still incomplete, through countless royal coronations and marriages to the 'Te Deum Mass' celebrating the liberation of Paris at the end of the second world war, the Cathedral has been an integral part of the history of Paris.

AudienceOriginally Notre Dame's audience was the parishners of the previous church St Stephen's which was demolished to make way for Notre Dame. Throughout its history it has also hosted the royalty of Europe as several Coronations took place within its walls. Notre Dame has always attracted hundreds of people from around the world to attend mass but now it also attracts tourists that come to see the world famous architecture and visit the important historical relics that are held within the Cathedral.

Period of ConstructionConstruction of Notre Dame started in 1163, several years after a new era of gothic architecture had emerged in France.The building of the choir and double deambulatory continued until 1182. Work was then ongoing until around 1250 when the upper gallery was completed. There were futher modifications in the late 13th and early 14th centuries as well as 17th and 18th centuries. During the French Revolution there was significant harm done where much of the religous imagery was damaged or destroyed. In 1845 extensive restoration was undertaken to repair the broken cathedral. During contemporary times the cathedral was again marred during the Second World War. A major restoration was started in 1991 and is continuing. Throughout the 12th century architects had started to design structures that had thinner walls and pointed arches which allowed them to construct bigger, taller buildings that reached toward the sky. This became known as the ogival style which was later named 'gothic' as it was considered uncivilised by the Italians during the Renaissance.

Six key featuresflying buttresses: The buttresses were not part of the original design of Notre Dame. The external arched supports became necessary as the building grew taller and outward force caused stress fractures on the walls.Sexpartile vaulting : Pointed, ribbed vaults with six panels serve to draw the eye skyward more than the previous Romanesque semi circular vaults.Pointed arches: The newly designed pointed arches had less outward thrust than circular ones and were also able to distribute the weight of the ceiling instead of relying solely on the walls.Stained glass windows: The stained glass windows were able to be used as the walls were no longer the only things used to hold up the ceiling, the weight was also distributed by the pointed arches.Grand tall towers: The towers were used to reach up to give the effect of the Cathedral reaching up to the heavens.cruciform plan: during the middle ages churches were built in a 'cross' style which as well as being symbolic of the crucifix also allowed for more space for the congregation.

InfluenceThe period in which Notre Dame was one of political stability. This meant that the French kings were able to dedicate their money and time to extravagant buildings and Cathedrals were a popular choice at the time. The middle ages were a time of religous change where everyday people became more involved in the church and contributed to the financial costs of the building. In the later part of the eleventh century the christian church also became important places of learning and culture for the arts.

Characteristics of GargoylesGrotesques is the term used to describe the Gargoyles and chimeras that adorn Notre Dame. Chimeras are stone carvings and serve as ornamental only. Gargoyles on the other hand are extremely useful at directing rain water away from the masonry work, protecting it and the buildings fondations from erosion. It wasn't until the 1840's during restorative work that the gargoyles were added to the facade of Notre Dame. Due to their task of directing rainwater they are strategically placed around the building. The most famous of the chimera is called le Styrge but is commonly known as the Spitting Gargoyle.


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