Whenever we hear the name Notre Dame, one of two things might come to mind: the movie that we all watched and loved, about a man who rang the bells at a church, called “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” or the notorious Fighting Irish football team in Indiana from Notre Dame University. Well, if you were hoping that this was an article on Quasimodo or the Division I football team, I am sorry to disappoint you. But do not be too discouraged because, instead, you will read about one of the most beautiful cathedrals that has ever been built (and it is in the film the “Hunchback of Notre Dame,” so that is relatively close). The Notre Dame de Paris, or as we call it in English, the Notre Dame Cathedral, is a massive Gothic cathedral that represents the times and art of medieval Europe.
The architectural style of Gothic came into existence in Europe in the mid-twelfth century and lasted until the sixteenth century.1 The idea of the Notre Dame de Paris, which translates to “Our Lady of Paris,” was established by Maurice de Sully in 1160 who was the bishop of Paris at the time.
He wanted to build a cathedral church dedicated to the Virgin Mary; hence the name’s translation. The first stone for the foundation was laid by Pope Alexander III in 1163.2 The Notre Dame Cathedral was built on the ruins of two previous churches in the eastern end of the Ile de la Cite, which is the “historical heart of the city.”3 The purpose for it being built, beside dedication to the Virgin Mary, was for it to be an education center. During the high middle ages, the increasing wealth and social complexity of the cities created the demand for educated individuals to deal with “political, legal, and theological issues.” The institution did not, however, hold classes inside of the cathedral. Instead, there was a school connected to the cathedral.4
Emerging from the Romanesque Era, the Gothic Age of architecture came along with its signature innovation: the flying buttress. You probably think I am joking with a name like that, but those types of appendages to the frames of Gothic cathedrals were what allowed for these cathedrals to be built so tall. During the Romanesque Era, cathedrals were much shorter due to the heavy stones that were used for building the walls, limiting how tall they could build. The classic Roman arches could not evenly distribute the weight with the dome shape they took.5
Now if we take a look at the cathedrals during the Gothic Age, the difference in height can be readily noticed. The cathedrals during this time seemed to tower over those of the previous era. For that, we can thank the flying buttresses that were mentioned earlier. These buttresses were able to absorb the weight displacement of the walls, allowing them to be made taller, and allowing them to have large spaces for stained glass windows, which were not possible for Romanesque cathedrals. The weight of the stones could be easily supported by the thin intersecting arches. The architects discovered that the outward thrust of the vaults were concentrated in the small areas at the springing of the ribs and were also deflected downward by the pointed arches; the pressure could be counteracted by the narrow buttresses. Rows of carved flying buttresses created the signature look for Gothic masterpieces such as the Notre Dame de Paris, Amiens, and Beauvais.6
The Notre Dame de Paris is a model cathedral for the era of Gothic Architecture. The multipurpose cathedral created an environment of religious and secular education that helped shape the minds of the world. I know that there was no mention of a “Hunchback” in this article of the Notre-Dame, but I can guarantee that Quasimodo was proud to ring the bells of such a monumental cathedral.
Cathedral of Notre Dame
The author had a great benign to the article not only did the amazing pictures of the church amazed me but the hook in the begging mad me want to read more into the article. There are so many architectural wonders in the world and many churches are beautiful and some take years to make. But the goth architecture of this one particular church is not only beautiful but filled a purpose because it was built as a sign for the Virgin Mary. How the architecture not only beautiful but important to the structure of the church.
The first thing I did think of was the hunchback of Notre Dame and the football team when I hear, Notre Dame. I would be doing this great Romanesque Era, cathedrals a great disservice if I did that. I love the architecture of the Gothic Age and this cathedral definitely has the difference in height that is easily noticed if you know anything about the type of architecture. The Notre Dame de Paris is a model cathedral for the era of Gothic Architecture. I like that your article showed its multiple purposes that made it a cathedral set apart. Though it was created the beautiful environment of religious and secular education that helped shape the minds of the world, its architecture is what truly makes it stand alone. The imagery you used, of the Notre Dame de Paris is awesome and caused me to want to see more pictures, as I went online to search picture of the cathedral after reading your article.
Great article! I really enjoied your introduction, and how you used it to hook the reader to reader to continue to rest of the essay. I also found your insight on the Cathedral very informative. I have been to several in my life, but not one as outstanding as this one. The Notre Dame de Paris is a perfect example for the era of Gothic Architecture, and the explanation of it’s features and history was great as well. To conclude, the ended was great as well, because it again tied to the nice intro, which is what stood out to me the most. Overall, with such a short brief article, I fell you captured everything you needed to very well, and would love to read another one of your articles.
Faten Al Shaibi
What a great building and wonderful design, it really is an architectural masterpiece , I liked the interesting idea of the opening article, which interested you to know its content as I liked the pictures attached to the article. Now I have more information about Notre Dame. before all that came to my mind when I heard the name Notre Dame was “The hunchback of Notre Dame” but after the article I became more interesting to learn more about Notre Dame.