I posted about the history and architecture of Notre Dame. It is part of Paris‘ cultural and religious lifeblood. It’s huge, historic, and imposing. I was surprised to find pockets of warmth, small details and intimacy when we visited during a mass.
Notre Dame is a huge Gothic masterpiece. Built in the middle ages (construction started in 1163), it has seen a lot. It survived the French Revolution, allegedly housed the Crown of Thorns, saw many coronations including Napoleons and inspired Victor Hugo‘s story of a hunchbacked bell-ringer (Quasimodo), The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Construction began in 12th century. Two centuries passed before it was competed in 1345, spanning almost the entire Gothic period. At the time, it was an engineering feat; it was one of the world’s first buildings to use “flying buttress” (the support arches attached to the exterior at the garden end of the cathedral that help support the weight of the enormous roof).
The church is known for its size. It is massive and can hold 6000. It is also known for its large stained glass rose window. Like an idiot, I used to look for pink in rose windows. It was awhile before I learned that rose window is a generic term applied to the large circular windows, particularly those found in Gothic churches. They are divided into segments by stone mullions and tracery, the color pink is in no way a prerequisite. Go figure.
I was especially smitten with the hundreds (perhaps even thousands) of humorous gargoyles. The rooftop has amazing views of the city, but we were with older family who couldn’t make the trip up the stairs. Please feel free to comment and tell us what we missed.
We stopped in Tirano because it is the end point for the Berninia Express. Most visitors to Tirano stop on their way somewhere else whether on a train journey, to ski areas like to St. Moritz or Pontresina, or on the way to Milan. On someone’s advice, we decided not to stay in Tirano, Italy, but stayed in Lugano instead. They told us Tirano was small and Lugano offered more to see and do in Lugano. They were right. It has only about 9,000 inhabitants (it is still considered a city because it has walls that were built to protect it). We took a 30-minute train tour of the town. Although it was in a wonderful setting, our tour was enough. Here are the highlights: The Catholic shrine of Madonna di Tirano is dedicated to the supposed appearance of the Blessed Mother to Mario Degli Omodei on September 29, 1504. Pilgrims credit the appearance to an end to a pestilence. They have a nice plaza around the church.
The town has some pretty old buildings but their beauty is trumped by the natural beauty of the Alps that surround it.
Tirano has a river, a gorgeous setting, some tranquil sun-drenched piazzas and some ancient, winding streets. I’m pretty sure that the food there is pretty good. We saw lots of people out in cafes enjoying the sun. If we head there again, I will put it to the test.
History time folks. In the 14th century, Pope Clement V and his court fled political turmoil in Rome, escaping to Avignon. Clement V was French and well, where else would he go? From 1309 to 1377 there were seven French-born popes and the papacy was not in Rome, but in Avignon. Yep, the place with the bridge into the river, the Pont du Gard.
The Popes spent a fortune building palaces, decorating them and outfitting them with accouterments. You can still see some of it today (and learn a little bit about the history) by touring the papal palaces.
The Papal palace was built between 1335 and 1364.
Needless to say, the Italians weren’t huge fans of the move and continually lobbied to get them back to Rome. There was the Great Schism (which you may remember reading about in high school). When Pope Gregory XI left Avignon and died, Rome and Avignon both elected their own popes. These popes both excommunicated the other and tried to gain control of the church (with the accompanying revenues). When all sides finally found a pope acceptable to all, Martin V, he established himself in Rome, ending Avignon’s time in the spotlight.
In addition to the pope pens, it is licensed sell alcohol.
Fasnacht, Basel’s Carnival celebration, starts the Monday after Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday. Carnival in Rio, Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Venice, and the overwhelming majority of Carnival celebrations end on Fat Tuesday with the start of lent on Ash Wednesday. Why then does Basel’s Carnival take place the week after lent has started? There are several theories.
It is thought to be Protestant Basel’s response to the Catholic idea of giving up things for Lent. As Protestants they believe in moderation all the time. Throwing one heck of a party and indulging of all manners of excess only to renounce them doesn’t fit with their philosophy. Some argue that it is this aversion to lent that causes them to hold it later.
Others argue that it is a desire to provoke neighboring Catholics, who are already fasting.
Basel’s Carnival celebrations began a half-week after Ash Wednesday even before the reformation. In Basel, Lent did not begin until the week after Ash Wednesday because people fasted on Sundays as well (to achieve their 40 days of fast). This would also explain why Basel’s Carnival begins on Monday mornings.
Some Swiss say Baslers do it just to be difficult and/or different.
To be a Papal Swiss Guard, you must:
Here’s the deal. Charles Emmanuel I the Duke of Savoy wanted Geneva’s wealth. Genevans wanted their independence. Many of them were religious refugees and would have had no where safe to go if Geneva had fallen to Catholic France. They also wanted to keep their money instead of giving it to the Duke.
The cannon was louder than the muskets. Unfortunately, there are not enough occasions where shooting off a cannon is permitted. If you can get away with it, it definitely says celebration (or attack). There’s also a race/run that takes place weekend of or preceding the night of the 11th It usually starts in the Parc des Bastions, where the Savoy troops congregated before attacking the walled city, and goes through Geneva’s old town, before finishing near the start. It’s a big deal here and everyone gets involved; you’ll even see families and running together. There’s even a youth race and a costume run.
|Still love dogs|
|Franco’s sword. He got a lot of support from the church.|
The Reformation brought changes to the building as well. It’s philosophy of austerity impacted the interior of the cathedral. Ornaments were removed; colors were whitewashed. The Calvinists didn’t believe in religious images, so statues, alters, paintings and furniture were out. The windows are just about the only thing they keptCompare this to St. Peter‘s Cathedral in Rome and you can really see the austerity, solemnity and restraint.
|Cathedral Saint-Pierre (Calvin preached here)|
Geneva was a center of Protestantism and the Reformation. The St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre, the slaughter of several thousand Huguenots (Protestants) in 1572 triggered a fast in Geneva the next year to remember those who were killed.
St. Bartholomew’s Day is the first Thursday in September. Over time, it lost its religious significance. It is now associated with eating plum tarts (yum).** Since this is Switzerland, banks, post offices, shops, restaurants and bars close. However, unlike Thanksgiving, which also falls on a Thursday, you don’t get a four-day weekend. I did some shopping to prepare yesterday. You should take the day off too. I will be. He will be working, remotely.
|The whole ten all lit up at night|
* The people on the wall are Theodore Beza, John Calvin, William Farel and John Knox. On one side are: William the Silent, Gaspard de Coligny and Frederick William of Brandenburg. On the other side are: Roger Williams, Oliver Cromwell and Stephen Bocskay.
**People were supposed to abstain from meat on a day of penitence, and plums happened to be in season.