My next journey is about to start...

Notre Dame de Paris, Esmeralda, Quasimodo, Phoebus, Fleur-de-Lys, Or Where It All Happened

Notre Dame de Paris, Esmeralda, Quasimodo, Phoebus, Fleur-de-Lys, Or Where It All Happened

Yes, the events of this famous human drama started, unfolded and ended right here in the winter of 1482: Quasimodo was proclaimed the Pope of Fools, beautiful, pure and kind Esmeralda captured hearts, her own heart was captured by handsome and very vain Phoebus, jealousy of Fleur-de-Lys was dangerously awakened, Claude Frollo was tortured by his own nature, lost this battle and was pushed from the heights of Notre Dame, Esmeralda was saved by Quasimodo but then they both died…

At least that’s what happened according to one of the greatest books in the world literature – Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris (English title is “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame”) published in 1831 and first read by me in 2000 for the University exams. Notre Dame with its deep symbolism and explorations of emotions was Hugo’s first full-length novel. It brought him an enormous success and was quickly translated into many languages, including Russian and English.

Even when admiring gorgeous and intense Gothic architecture of Notre-Dame the viewer can feel that nothing fun could have happen in the fictional story with this cathedral as a setting. On the most sunny day those monstrous carved out of stone gargoyleshalf men, half beasts – looking at you from the cathedral’s heights bring out some deep thoughts and emotions. No wonder, gargoyles and chimeras were used by the church as a representation of evil and demons: they were supposed to scare away demon spirits and to demonstrate that evil is kept outside of the church walls.

Besides symbolical there is a pure practical purpose of the scary gargoyles – they divide the flow of rainwater off the roof to minimize the potential damage from a rainstorm. Each grotesque figure has a passageway inside that carries rainwater from the roof and out through the gargoyle’s mouth.

Anyway besides gargoyles there is a lot to love about this magnificent Cathedral dedicated to Virgin Mary. Certainly, Notre-Dame has a great history: its construction started as early as 1163 in the reign of Louis VII and Pope Alexander III put the first stone into its foundation. The Cathedral was completed by 1345 and was a site of many official ceremonies including coronations of Kings and Queens. Unfortunately, during the French Revolution many of its treasures were destroyed or disappeared and the Cathedral needed much repair work to be done. In fact, Victor Hugo’s novel influenced active reconstruction of the church in the 19th century when thousands of his readers began to come to Paris just to visit the famous Notre-Dame de Paris which itself can be seen as the most important character of the book. The Cathedral is located in the center of Paris, on the Cite Island on the River Seine (Île de la Cité) and is surrounded by many cozy cafes, restaurants, rare book stands and souvenir shops. And the Louvre is in the neighborhood! You will have a great time there!

468 ad

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>