Wednesday, February 1, 2012

PARIS - Architecture Smorgasbord

Notre Dame Cathedral 2010 by DG Hudson

Man has always strived for beauty in his cathedrals and churches, though what was stylish in one era is considered dated a few hundred years later. Regardless of style, we can appreciate the buildings for the detail, the statues, the beautiful stained glass windows and the graceful arches of the exteriors. 

This post highlights a few of the churches and other interesting buildings we saw on our walks around Paris. There are numerous websites for those wanting more information. This is just a sampling, a smorgasbord.

Fearsome Waterspouts of Notre Dame by DGH

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) completed in 1345, boasts individually made gargoyles and was one of the early churches incorporating flying buttresses. At one time, the exterior and the detail were painted, rather than the stone grey they appear today. It’s a building of interest from every side, with a beautiful circular stained-glass window in the front between the two towers. (Link below for interior photos).

A large square facing the front of the cathedral is a common gathering place for tourists, locals wanting to catch some sun while having their lunch, and the pigeons hoping to catch a few crumbs. The large statue of Charlemagne on one side watches over the square. The Crypt Archeologique, a home for the Roman ruins found beneath the area, resides in another corner.

Charlemagne in Notre Dame square - by DG Hudson  Notre Dame Cathedral

Sacré-Cœur Basilica

Montmartre's highlight at the top of the hill.

Sacré-Cœur - Montmartre, Paris - by DG Hudson

Sacré-Cœur Basilica (Sacred Heart) at the top of Montmartre butte towers over the city of Paris, the stark white of the stone shining against the blue sky. This travertine stone cleans itself as it exudes calcite, a nice touch. The basilica construction started in 1875, in what was considered a rebellious section of the city, and was completed in 1914.

Wide steps at the front of the church allow visitors to rest and enjoy the vista before going inside the basilica or making their way back down through the winding streets of Montmartre. 

Remember the Da Vinci Code?

Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre, Paris - by DG Hudson,_Paris Sacré-Cœur Basilica  A View on Cities


St. Germaine des Pres

The Bell Tower of St. Germaine des Pres - by Green Eye

The Church of St. Germaine des Pres, built in 542 AD to house holy relics, is the oldest church in Paris.  It's on the Left Bank in the 6th arrondisement. The church combines Gothic style with the Romanesque design of the older part of the church, a nave and the last bell tower. 

René Descartes, the philosopher-mathematician, is buried in this church. Just down the street is the famed Les Deux Magots, and around the corner the equally famed Café Flore. Not a bad neighbourhood.  St. Germaine des Pres  French at a touch web site



Gilt at the palace of the Sun King.

In the inner courtyard at Versailles by DGH

Place du Châtelet  - On the Right Bank between the 1st and 4th Arrondisements  stands the tower below.   This is how it looked in 2010 with the sun behind.

Place du Chatelet near Les Halles - by Green Eye

Arc de Triomphe
Under the arches of the Arc de Triomphe are inscribed names of battles fought during the Napoleonic era.  The grave of the Unknown Soldier rests beneath here. 

Arc de Triomphe - History etched in stone - by DGH

Musee D'Orsay
A former Paris - Orleans Railway station now serves as a beautiful art gallery for Impressionist art.  Some other styles do make a showing.  No photos are allowed inside the gallery in order to preserve the art.  This building is the inspiration for the one featured in the movie, Hugo.

Musee D'Orsay Detail, Left Bank, Paris - by DG Hudson

What are some distinctive landmarks for the city you live in or a place you like to visit
Most places have at least one unique feature.  Key West has a large conch shell welcoming you to the city (called the Conch Republic for a short time).  Landmarks can be buildings, statues, or retro advert pieces still standing.  Can you name one?