Matt Betts & I decided to go see Notre Dame on Friday morning. We went right after we figured mass would be over, since tromping around during a service would be rude to say the least. We didn’t get to go up the towers, because the lines were already a block long and we did want to get back to the conference to hear some papers. Next time…
Notre Dame is a very old cathedral, construction having started in 1163, finishing some two hundred years later. It had fallen into a state of some disrepair, thanks in part to its conversion to a “Temple of Reason” during the revolution, when Victor Hugo wrote The Hunchback of Notre Dame. That inspired calls for the restoration, which was completed in 1864.
Repair and restoration are ongoing processes here. For example, the huge chandelier which normally hangs in the crossing was on the floor being worked on.
Some of the side chapels had clearly been cleaned and had their painting restored, while others were completely black from the soot given off by candles which had been burned there over the centuries.
The interior is an amazing space. The architects who first figured out how to build cathedrals were true geniuses.
I promised a number of people I’d put some pictures from the trip to Paris up, so here goes. I took these with my iPhone, which isn’t quite up to even my Optio S, let alone the Nikons, so the picture quality isn’t that great.
The first set is from the Louvre. A few of us went to visit on Thursday, which the conference organizers had allowed as a day off. This was a great idea, since day after day of papers can leave people sort of “conferenced out” and really not able to pay much attention to papers on the last day. This avoided that syndrome.
The Mona Lisa looks a little forlorn hanging by itself on a wall that is apparently also a protective vault.
It looks much smaller than one expects, particularly since it is facing a really immense painting.
The room is really crowded, and it takes a while to get close enough to get a good picture.
The Louvre itself was pretty amazing in terms of over-the-top interior decoration. The craftsmanship was amazing.