Notre Dame Cathedral: Crown of Thorns Chapel

No one would have predicted the catastrophic fire at Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral yesterday. Millions of people around the world have visited the iconic, historic and major religious site, and I imagine that millions watched the fire on television with feelings of horror and grief. We are all immensely grateful that much of the stone construction survives, and that the French are committed to rebuilding — replacing historic 800-300 year old craftsmanship with today’s. A reconstructed Cathedral won’t be the same, but we can’t leave Paris without its heart.

I have visited Paris six times, and I plan to revisit my photos from all of those trips. Most recently, I walked through Notre Dame late in the day on November 17, 2019. The security line stretched across the plaza, and the interior was packed with people, but we walked the the perimeter in the side aisles, and I took photos of the two Rose windows and the Crown of Thorns Chapel behind the main altar.

Crown of Thorns Chapel in Notre Dame Cathedral on 17 November 2018. Copyright by Catherine Kelly of USA. Prints available at http://www.cathykellyphotography.com.

My Sony mirrorless camera takes amazing images in very low light. Of course, I was not using a tripod in the Cathedral, so I set the camera for ISO 10,000 to hand hold it. It is ironic that my photo of the Crown of Thorns Chapel included a small fire extinguisher in the lower left corner.

The image shown here in this blog is lower resolution, so it will load quickly on your computer or mobile device. The full resolution image will be uploaded to my website and available for purchase. It can be printed 26.7″ x 11.6″ at 300 dpi (recommended). Please keep in mind that this image is protected by U.S. Copyright law, which means it can be purchased from Cathy Kelly, but it should not be copied and distributed without permission/purchase. If you wish to share this image, you are most welcome to share a link to this blog. Follow my blog, please, if you would like to see more images of Notre Dame Cathedral in years past. My next post will feature the beautiful Rose windows, which were destroyed in this tragic fire.

Our hearts are with the brave first responders, the French, the Roman Catholics, the tourists who visited and held Notre Dame in their hearts and the art historians who revered the Cathedral. We all mourn together.

Pont Alexandre III, Paris

Call me old-fashioned, but I love the architecture of 100 years ago. A walk along the Seine River in Paris last month gave me the chance to admire a series of beautiful bridges. This ornate one was built as part of the 1900 Exposition. Just look at the sculptures, the gold leaf and the series of lanterns.

Looking across Pont Alexandre III in Paris toward the Champs Elysee on a sunny Saturday.

I was walking from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame. It was cold and crisp, and I was grateful that there will still a few leaves on the trees. Paris is a great city to walk until your feet beg for mercy. When that happens, you can stop for a coffee and croissant, and then walk some more.

Symmetry at the Louvre

Symmetry is a key attribute of Renaissance architecture, and this side entrance of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France is a classic example. If you fold this photograph in half, down the center line, the two sides would nearly match up — save for a few pedestrians and patches in the old roof.

Do you like patterns? You can appreciate the double and triple repetition in the exterior when you take time to study this photograph. Look at the three portals and parallel windows above. Then see how many pairs you can find: in windows, towers, statues and so on. This architecture almost reminds you of music — perhaps Bach.

This side entrance to the Louvre is a Renaissance gem. Note the symmetry and repetition of elements.

While the new pyramid pedestrian entrance designed by Chinese American architect I. M. Pei gets all the attention these days, don’t forget about the historic parts of the museum (first a royal palace) built in the 16th to the 19th centuries. This section of the Louvre faces a bridge over the River Seine.

Rich vs Poor at Versailles

Standing in the security line at Versailles, I noticed the fresh gold leaf on the  ornate gates to the Palace. My mind wandered to the history of the Sun King, Louis XIV who built most of the Palace and the angry and hungry French revolutionaries who stormed the Palace, attempting to capture and kill the monarchs.

And how history repeats itself. The current Yellow Vest protesters in Paris argue that the rich need to aide the poor. Then, in America we have a “man bites dog” situation where the wealthy president fights to build a wall to keep out the poor. Poor vs rich, rich vs poor.

Then, I come back to the present where I stand in line and admire the gates for the outstanding piece of historic artistry they are. In this view, perspective lines up the gates in opposition to the palatial architecture behind them. Admire the iconography: see the “Sun king” represented? I’m grateful that the French government of the 20 and 21 century has restored these gates for all of us to admire and appreciate and to reflect upon history.

#versailles, #gates, #gold, #iconography, #sunking, #palace, #architecture
Fresh gold leaf adorns the gates of the Palace of Versailles built by Louis XIV before the 18c. French Revolution.

Peace and Light in Paris

Violent demonstrations have eclipsed the peace you can usually count on in Paris, the “City of Light,” but we are hoping that this unrest will soon come to an end, so Parisians and their visitors can enjoy their city again. The lights of the Paris monuments at night are magical. 

Since much of the recent demonstrations disrupted the Champs d’Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe, I felt especially lucky that I had the opportunity to climb the 230 steps of the Arc in order to capture this night photo of the Eiffel Tower just last month. The Eiffel Tower puts on a dazzling show on the hour when it sparkles for about 5 minutes.

#paris, #toureiffel, #eiffeltower, #eiffel, #night, #light, #cityoflight, #peace, #peaceful, #beacon, #arcdetriomphe, #arc, #violence
The rotating blue beacon atop the Tower seems to radiate a sense of hope for peaceful times to come in 2019.

I’m sorry for the two weeks without new blog posts, but the holiday rush and some traveling has kept me super busy. I will try to resume my good habits of posting three times a week, and I hope you will follow me.

Prints of this image or others in my blog are available through my website if you click on the PRINTS link above. If you need help finding what you are looking for, don’t stress — just send me an email, and I am here to help!

Happy Holidays and good luck with your busy December!

Vivid Sainte-Chapelle

After the iconic Eiffel Tower,  Sainte-Chapelle with its amazing stained glass windows is my favorite place to visit in Paris. The height and vivid color of the windows create a stunning effect. As you look at them, you wonder how they stand, as the stone supports are quite tall and thin and the walls appear to be “all window.” The chapel’s architecture and windows date to the early 13th century. It’s hard to image the construction taking place 800 years ago. 

#stainedglass, #saintchapelle, #Paris, #thingstodo, #iconic, #architecture, #history, #Louisix, #13century, #chapel, #church, #art
Admire the stained glass of Saint-Chapelle in this wide angle photograph taken with the Sony a7rII.

This royal chapel, commissioned by Louis IX on Ile de la Cite in Paris, is located near Notre Dame Cathedral. If you buy the Musee Pass to pay admission to numerous museums and monuments for a 3-5 days, this beautiful church is included. I recommend going on a sunny day!

Walking the Gardens of Versailles

After October 30 this year, the fountains at Versailles shut down for the season, but the gardens still offer a lovely long walk. Some yellow leaves held their place on the trees and reflected the low afternoon light. Without the water flowing, we were able to see the amazing sculpture of the fountains, especially these horses and men rising from the water.

#versailles, #Paris, #daytrip, #gardens, #walk, #November, #water, #season, #fountain, #bike
Zoom in to examine the baroque sculpture at the center of the pond. Versailles Gardens, November 2018.

I always enjoy seeing the locals enjoying these gardens — walking, biking and even taking out a paddle boat. The scene reminds me of New Yorkers enjoying the pastoral beauty of Central Park. 

“Paris is always a good idea.”

I have to agree. It has been many years since my last trip to Paris, and I have good news: My friend Diane invited me to join her in November in Paris. Pourquoi pas? I’m going!

Making travel plans again for the iconic city allows me to think back on my 2004 trip to visit my friend Louise, who was living there with her family. We walked all over the city together, starting with Le Tour Eiffel.

#paris, #iconic, #eiffel, #dofirst, #arrived, #seine, #travel
Fresh (or not so fresh) off the airplane, we went to see the Eiffel Tower from across the River Seine.

We hiked to the top of Montmartre for lunch, the art in the square and a visit to Sacre Coeur, a beautiful Catholic church.

#sacrecoeur, #montmartre, #paris, #travel, #summer, #france
View of the neighborhood from the tower of Sacre Coeur in Montmartre, Paris, 2004.

On Ile de la Cite, the first arrondissement, where the Cathedral of Notre Dame is located, we stopped for ice cream at Berthillon before wandering the narrow streets lined with elegant shops.

#paris, #berthillon, #june, #summer, #travel, #icecream, #glaces, #sorbets
June was the perfect month for ice cream in Paris at the well known Berthillon.

It’s hard to make a short wish list for my November trip, since I spent over a week in Paris in 2004 and toured countless museums, churches, gardens and neighborhoods. One things is for sure: I want to walk the city again. There is so much to discover on foot.

#art, #notredame, #paris, #seine, #walking, #travel, #explore
On the Left Bank of the Seine near Notre Dame, it is fun to peruse the art displayed in the vendors’ stalls.

Back to School at Hogwarts

It’s early September, and school starts a new academic year. Does your school look like Hogwarts? This sunlit cloister of Durham Cathedral in England looks a lot like Hogwarts, Harry Potter’s school, because parts of the Harry Potter movies were filmed here.

#durham, #durhamcathedral, #cloister, #harrypotter, #movie, #harrypottermovie, #school, #september, #sepia, #blackandwhite, #bw, #shadows, #architecture
Durham Cathedral’s Cloister was the perfect setting for Harry Potter’s school Hogwarts in the movies.

Rendered here in a sepia-toned, black and white photograph, we can appreciate the sunlight and shadows of the Norman architecture. I recall similar architecture at the University of Sydney in Australia.

Gateshead Millennium Bridge — Wow!

Pittsburgh PA, you have met your match. Newcastle, England, like you, is a city of bridges and a former coal and steel center making a successful transformation into a technology center with an entrepreneurial spirit.

This innovative pivoting pedestrian bridge is a great symbol of the new Newcastle. Admire the Gateshead Millennium Bridge connecting pedestrians on the wharfs of sister cities Newcastle and Gateshead. These are two university towns with an abundance of pubs, many of them taking full advantage of the riverside waterfront.

#bridge, #Newcastle, #gateshead, #millenium, #pivot, #pedestrian, #transformation, #entrepreneurial, #university, #pubs, #travel
Gateshead Millennium Bridge on a summer day connects the wharfs in sister cities Newcastle and Gateshead, England.

The pedestrian bridge closes to foot traffic and pivots, lowering the high arch and raising the lower arch when a large vessel needs to pass through. Have you ever seen a bridge like this?