I really liked the symmetry and balance in this photo. This is a difficult feature to photograph, for some reason. About the Rose Windows in particular: these remarkable works of art are among some of the greatest produced during the Middle Ages. The South Rose Window was gifted to the cathedral by the king St. Louis, constructed in 1260. The North one is a bit older, having been executed in 1250. They feature 84 panels divided into various circles comprised of medallions. They are nearly 40 feet across. It's almost unimaginable how they were created during this time, but by and large they have survived. They have been restored many times but most of the glass is actually original. They were removed during WWII for fear that bombing would destroy them, but, yet again, they survived. It's interesting to think about some of their features, as the events they illustrate are barely visible from the floor below, raising questions about their ultimate purpose, other than astonishing beauty.
This remarkable basilica was enjoying its 850th anniversary while we were there, so there was much celebration. Our apartment was located just down the street, so we could hear the bells frequently. Victor Hugo wrote that "Each face, each stone of this venerable monument is not only a page of the history of the country, but also of the history of knowledge and art....Time is the architect, the people are the builder." This building continues to inspire! Construction began in 1163, and it was finally completed in 1345. This incredible cathedral, a must-see landmark of a visit to Paris and probably its most well-known and often-visited site next to the Eiffel Tower was begun more than 800 years ago; the first cornerstone was laid in 1163. Actually, it replaced a number of previous structures located on the same site. According to some sources, ancient Celts held sacred rituals and ceremonies on the island in the Seine, and the Romans consequently built their own religious edifice, a temple to Jupiter, on the same site. A Christian basilica dedicated to St. Etienne was constructed in the 6th century, which was in turn replaced by a Romanesque church that occupied the site until the construction of the Cathedral began. There were a number of phases of construction, which was completed in 1250. It was revolutionary for its time, employing new techniques and styles that are its most celebrated features even today, including the "flying buttresses" mentioned above. The world-famous "rose window" was begun in 1225 and completed in 1250: yes, that amazing stained glass is more than 750 years old. Its panels were removed and placed in storage for safe keeping during WWII for fear that bombing would destroy them. Various restoration projects have occurred over the years, as the cathedral has certainly seen its share of history. It has suffered damage in various wars and conflicts, particularly the French Revolution, but it has certainly withstood the test of time. It is thus one of the most celebrated (and impressive) monuments in Europe.