It’s true that Notre Dame owes a lot of its cultural significance to Victor Hugo and his novel but Notre Dame didn’t just sit there and let Hugo’s imagination work with out her influence.
Anaykh craved on the wall, 1956 Hunchback of Notre Dame
One story goes is that as Hugo was up in the towers of Notre Dame he came across a word craved on the wall. The Word was “Ananke.” Ananke is a noun that means “force, constraint, necessity” and is the personification of destiny, necessity and fate. Seeing this word craved on the wall made Hugo think about the person who wrote it. From this word Frollo was conceived, making him the first character for the novel. Ananke is also a major theme in the novel.
Quasimodo is crowned King of Fools (Charles Laughton) 1939 Hunchback of Notre Dame
Also while Hugo was exploring Notre Dame, the cathedral was going though repairs. One of the stoneworkers was a Hunchback who was also British. His name was Henry Sibson This suggests that Quasimodo was inspired by Sibson.
By the early 1800’s Notre Dame was in a sad state. The local government thought about tearing it down. Then, in 1804, Napoleon decided it was the perfect place for his coronation, which gave the gave the old girl a new lease on life.. However it wasn’t till 1831 that Notre Dame was given a large public opinion boost.
On January 15th 1831, Notre Dame de Paris was published. Hugo was commissioned to write the novel and its agenda was to increase appreciation of old gothic structures. Which it did and Notre Dame was given a restoration. And thanks to both Napoleon and Hugo (but mostly Hugo), Notre Dame is one of jewels of the Parisian Skyline.
You can get the painting of the Paris Skyline by Michael Tompsett, by clicking here, It’s very pretty isn’t it?
Construction on Notre Dame de Paris began in 1163 when the first cornerstone was laid down. It was completed between 1250-1345.
Interior of Notre Dame
Notre Dame is a prime example of Gothic architecture. Gothic architecture is characterized by pointed arches, vertical heights, flying Buttress, vaulted ceiling, light and airy interiors, gargoyles, and decorative and ornate style.
Illustration of Flying Buttresses
Notre Dame was among the first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses. The reason for a buttress is to resist the lateral forces pushing a wall outward by redirecting them to the ground. The flying buttress does not connect to the wall or ground and instead the the lateral forces are being transmitted by an intervening space. The flying butress made it possible for buildings to be taller, creating larger Rose windows and reinforce the wind loading on buildings.
Speaking of Rose Windows, or sometimes called a Catherine windows, a Rose window is a term for a circular window in Gothic architecture. Though the term Rose window wasn’t used till the 17th century.
Notre Dame’s South Rose Window
The South window was a gift from King Saint Louis and was designed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre Montreuil. It depicts Christ surrounded by saints and angels. The North window was also designed by Jean de Chelles and depicts the old testament surrounding the Virgin Mary. There is also the Western Rose Window, which is the window of the facade which also depicts the Virgin Mary.
Notre Dame’s Gargoyles
Probably Notre Dame’s more iconic feature is its Gargoyles. Gargoyles are used as decorative element and as gutters. The myth behind the Gargoyles on Churches is that they keep evil spirits away.