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Earthlore Explorations  Notre Dame de Paris
Vista of Paris - Viewed from the West Towers

Vista of the city of Paris, viewed from the towers of Notre Dame.

Among the many structures in the city which can be recognized from this position are the Church of Sainte-Sulpice, the second largest church in Paris. Constructed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Sainte-Sulpice is the twin towered building directly before the gargoyle. The single spired structure in the center of the image is Sainte-Chapelle, the private chapel of kings, considered one of finest treasures of Gothic craft for its wealth of fine stained glass. Sainte-Chapelle was constructed in the thirteenth century by Louis IX, who was later canonized as Saint Louis for his dedication to works of the faith.

The solitary tower at the far right of the image is Sainte-Jacques, all that remains of a Gothic church which was destroyed during the Revolution. Just to the left of Tour Sainte-Jacques, barely visible in the distance, is the basilica of Sacré-Couer, situated on the high hill over Montmartre. Construction on the shrine began in 1871, following the Prussian invasion of France.

Photograph: Rhey Cedron

       We have endeavoured to restore for the reader this admirable Cathedral of Notre Dame. We have briefly enumerated most of the beauties it possessed in the fifteenth century, though lost to it now; but we have omitted the chief one—the view of Paris as it then appeared from the summits of the towers.

       When, after long gropings up the dark perpendicular stair-case which pierces the thick walls of the steeple towers, one emerged at last unexpectedly on to one of the two high platforms inundated with light and air, it was in truth a marvellous picture spread out before you on every side; a spectacle sui generis of which those of our readers can best form an idea who have had the good fortune to see a purely Gothic city, complete and homogeneous, of which there are still a few remaining, such as Nuremberg in Bavaria, Vittoria in Spain, or even smaller specimens, provided they are well-preserved, like Vitré in Brittany and Nordhausen in Prussia.

      The Paris of that day, the Paris of the fifteenth century, was already a giant city. We Parisians in general are mistaken as to the amount of ground we imagine we have gained since then. Paris, since the time of Louis XI, has not increased by much more than a third; and, truth to tell, has lost far more in beauty than ever it has gained in size.

       Paris first saw the light on that ancient island in the Seine, the Cité, which has, in fact, the form of a cradle. The strand of this island was its first enclosure, the Seine its first moat.

—Victor M. Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris

Photographic Features of Notre Dame de Paris
Images Will Open in a Separate Window
Gothic Heart Vista of Paris from atop Notre Dame - 45k
Gothic Heart Vista of Notre Dame from the Southwest -
Gothic Heart View of Notre Dame from Southeast -
Gothic Heart Vista of Notre Dame from the Seine -

Gothic Heart Interior of the North rose window - 165k
Gothic Heart View of the West facade, 1890s -
Gothic Heart Vista from the Southeast, 1890s -
Gothic Heart View of the Barricades, 1870s - 48k

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