A-Z Challenge,  Paris,  Travel,  Uncategorized

A-Z Challenge: N is for Notre Dame

When I visited Paris for the first time in high school, Notre Dame was the first famous landmark I witnessed. I remember arriving in town after a very long trans-Atlantic flight, dropping off our luggage at the hotel (really… a step above a hostel) and then taking a walk around the neighborhood.

Of course, we students had no idea where we were, and I remember rounding the bend, crossing the bridge, and there she was – greeting us to her city.

Notre Dame is so large, that you almost appreciate her better from afar: the tall spires reaching towards the heavens; the stained glass windows drawing the sun towards herself.

Of course, once you are up close, you notice the fine details.

The beautiful doors
The intricate statues

The tour guide explained how numerology played a significant role in Medieval architecture. At that time: ” ‘We are instructed in number to avoid confusion. Take away number in all things, and they all perish. Take away computation from the world, and all things are encompassed by blind ignorance; people who are ignorant of the knowledge of reckoning cannot be distinguished from the other animals’. Thus wrote Isidore of Sevilla in the 7th century (Book III, 4)” (thanks to journal.eahn.org)

It is therefore logical that the architects at the time used numbers extensively in construction to ensure the buildings would not perish. With regards to the cathedrals, the number of columns, widows, doors, as well as saints and other figures represented in the carved statues, all coincide with numerology significance:

  • three represents the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) 
  • four represents the four evangelists 
  • six represents the six days of creation 
  • seven is considered the perfect number (three plus four) 
  • twelve represents the number of Christ’s apostles 
  • thirty-three, the number of years Jesus spent on earth.

For the more adventurous tourist, you can climb the 387 steps to the top of Notre Dame. You can get up close and personal with the gargoyles, but also enjoy a beautiful aerial view of the city.

Gargoyles (but no hunchback)


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