Fifteen years ago (2004) I climbed to the top of the North Tower of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris to enjoy the view and take photos. I was fascinated by the gargoyles and incorporated them into my compositions. Fortunately, I turned around and noticed the Cathedral’s beautiful, intricate spire and the copper statues at its base and made some photos in that direction as well. Since the Cathedral spire was destroyed in the fire of April 15, 2019, we can now remember it in pictures.
Here is an image with the spire centered in the frame and a closer view of the copper statues, which were removed and preserved days before the fire.
If you watched the television coverage the catastrophic fire in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris, the interior of the Cathedral looked like an inferno. As the burning spire collapsed inside the nave, the heat must have been intense. Somehow, miraculously, the famous stained glass rose windows from the 13 century have survived, according to news reports today.
The rose windows are certainly one of the most beautiful elements in the elegant 850-year-old Cathedral. I photographed the North and South windows during my last visit to Notre Dame of Paris on November 17, 2018.
These images, shot with a Sony mirrorless camera aIIr7, show detail one might enjoy through binoculars on site. The full resolution version of these images are available for sale on my website (in the Paris gallery), and can be printed at 16 x 20″ at 300dpi. Since I first laid eyes on these windows, as a college student more than 40 years ago, I have been fascinated by their intricacy, artistry and beauty. Take a close look yourself.
The rose window on the West facade, behind the historic organ, has also survived according to reports.
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.
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.
Before you have ever been to Edinburgh, Scotland, people will tell you, “Edinburgh is a beautiful city.” You think to yourself, “why does everyone say that?” I wondered if I would come away from my trip saying the exact same words to others. I do.
My simple explanation is that the architecture is beautiful. As you walk the city, you may find yourself pausing to admire architecture right and left. Before we even left our hotel, I was enchanted with this view out our window.
The curve of the street leading to the Cathedral in the West End makes lovely leading lines. This photograph was taken in late evening dusk, around 10pm.
*With apology to E. M. Forster for using the name of his book title.
Roaming around Durham Cathedral in Northeast England, I was busy learning about Norman architecture, the imprisonment of the Scots in the Cathedral and the bishop-princes appointed by William the Conquerer. But there was over a thousand years of history made here, and scores more facts to absorb.
Then, my attention was drawn to some unmarked tombs just outside the Cathedral.
Later research on the web provided the names of a bishop, a priest and a dean of the Cathedral buried outside the walls, but there are many more tombs than three, leaving the mystery of the tomb’s identity or date unsolved.
Perhaps it is better to consider this site a place for meditation and prayer. The questions raised by death and the what happens to each of us after death have vexed the human mind for millennia. It may benefit us more to reflect on the human condition and our questions about life after death than to seek the identity of any one particular grave.
When you compare the meaning of “sanctuary” in 12 c. England to 21 c. America, you might wonder about 21 century America under President Donald Trump. This year migrants are cross the American border from Mexico, seeking sanctuary from unsafe conditions, and are met with incarceration and separation from their children. Many of us Americans oppose this policy and wonder what has become of American values, in particularly freedom, individual rights and the pursuit of happiness. With these current events in mind, I was particularly touched by the mercy demonstrated in this tidbit of history from Durham Cathedral.
In 12th century England, criminals could seek sanctuary in Durham Cathedral by knocking on this bronze knocker and hanging on to it until they were admitted. “Fugitives were given 37 days to organize their affairs. They had to decide with to stand trial or to leave the country by the nearest port.” (Quote from a sign on the Cathedral wall.)
Please note, the Cathedral provided sanctuary to criminals, not migrants, but the concept of sanctuary and mercy is cause for reflection.
I spent the day exploring Durham, England. I caught the train from Newcastle, and walked into town, finding the central square and market. Strolling up the road, I took some photos of lovely storefronts and stopped into a few shops. (I should have titled this piece “Shopping Durham,” as my “shopping” blog posts are the most popular!)
I explored the beautiful Castle and Cathedral – more on those in the next few blog posts! One of the outdoor cafe tables at Cafe on the Green, between the Castle and the Cathedral called my name. My guidebook and journal kept me company during lunch. Then, I had the good instinct to cross the River Wear and walk along the far side, looking up at the town and the Cathedral in its summer greenery. Why? I realized that the Cathedral facade would be lit by the afternoon sun.
I was even able to position myself just right so the construction cloth over the tower that is under restoration was blocked by the leaves. It was a beautiful and peaceful afternoon, part of an unusually sunny summer of 2018.