Every time I say “flying buttress” he laughs. For some people, Notre Dame is a religious experience. Our promenade around the exterior was more like a giggly experience. Each time someone said “buttress,” it was pronounced “BUTT-ress.” You can’t take us anywhere. Nevertheless, I still think flying buttresses are cool and good for more than just a laugh.
Gothic churches are tall, spacious and filled with light. Why? The magic of technology. Buttresses support the walls outward force. Pointed arches (instead of the round Romanesque arches) allowed the enormous weight of stone roofs transferring it out and not just to the walls. Essentially, the buttresses support the weight of the roof. This made building thinner walls with windows possible.
You can see the support inside with a network of columns that become pointed. They intersect at the top of the roof.
Nowhere can you see this more than in Paris’ Sainte-Chapelle. Almost all the walls are windows and it is filled with light.
My favorite part about visiting the Duomo was the rooftop. I’ve been to cathedral’s (like Strasbourg) where you can visit the bell tower, but I don’t know of any where you can visit the roof. The Duomo’s is filled with statues (there are over 135 spires and 10x more statues), making the rooftop a sort of sculpture gallery with a stellar view of the city.
We always try to take the stairs, so we bought a ticket for the stairs instead of the elevator. On a 35-degree day, it was an economically good, but exceptionally hot choice. With views like these, who cares?
I brought my big lens with me and had a blast playing with it.
All of the statues are different. Many of the ones that depict martyred saints were a bit gory.
The perspective was fascinating. It was like walking through a forest of spires and statues. I don’t like open heights, but there was no way I was missing this!