Fastest Route to Mona Lisa, Louvre, Paris

the fastest route to Mona Lisa, Louvre Museum

It is possible to see the Mona Lisa with (almost) no one else around. The fastest way, the quickest way to see the Mona Lisa (Gioconda, or LA JOCONDE as the French name her) by Leonardo da Vinci and located in the 1st floor, DENON wing, room 711 / room 8: “LA JOCONDE” in the Louvre Museum, Paris, is shared here, step by step.

With a bit of planning and following these steps, if you wish, you can enjoy your one minute of fame, alone with the Mona Lisa. Then visit the Louvre Museum at your leisure.

Fastest way to the Mona Lisa:

  1. Buy an online ticket for the Louvre Museum for the 9:00am time slot.
  2. Be at the Pyramid, main entrance, at 8:30am.
  3. Choose the GREEN entrance line for e-ticket holders.
  4. You will enter the Louvre through the Glass Pyramid (ground floor). Escalator takes you down (lower ground floor).
  5. You will see Information Desk / Information “Musee du Louvre” in front of you. Turn right. Go up the first escalator. (You travel from lower ground floor to ground floor).
  6. You will see the signs for DENON wing in front of you. Go right. Take the lift ahead of you. Go up to 1st floor – elevator panel is marked with “La Joconde”.
  7. Out of the elevator, ahead of you, there will be a long hallway with artwork. Look for the signs towards “La Joconde”. Well marked.
  8. Enter room 711 (or room 8), also known as Salle des États. You are in a small antechamber with paintings.
  9. There are two doors ahead, left and right. Go further through one of them.
  10. You will enter a very big space. Ahead you will see the biggest painting in the Louvre, The Wedding Feast at Cana. Turn sideways to face the wooden barrier and see The Mona Lisa, La Joconde, La Gioconda, the Great Lady of the Louvre.

1. Buy an online ticket for the Louvre Museum for the 9:00 am time slot

You can buy your ticket from the Louvre website here. Best a few days in advance. Choose the top option: Individual tickets for the Museum. The cost is 17,00 € per person (2019) – as opposed to 15,00 € if you buy at the Louvre – and, choosing the 9:00am time slot, it will guarantee you entry in the Louvre as soon as it opens – which is:

Musée du Louvre opening hours
Monday: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Tuesday: Closed.
Wednesday: 9 a.m.–9:45 p.m.
Thursday: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Friday: 9 a.m.–9:45 p.m. 
Saturday: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m.–6 p.m.
On the first Saturday of each month, the museum is also open from 6 p.m. to 9:45 p.m. and admission is free for all visitors.
Rooms begin closing at 5:30 p.m., and at 9:30 p.m. on night openings.

Louvre Museum opening hours

Note: Free admission with no ticket (it will NOT guarantee you entry at 9:00am) for: under-18s, under-26s living in the European Economic Area, people with disabilities and the person accompanying them (these DO enter first), and people on income support. On presentation of proof of eligibility, full list on  Louvre.fr

2. Be at the Pyramid, main entrance, at 8:30am.

Louvre Museum, Pyramid Entrance - fastest route to see Mona Lisa
Louvre Museum, Pyramid Entrance – fastest route to see Mona Lisa

You might see him:

Military Dogs at Louvre Museum - fastest route to see the Mon Lisa
Military Dogs at Louvre Museum

3. Choose the GREEN entrance line for e-ticket holders.

Green line - tickets with time slot reservation
Green line – tickets with time slot reservation

4. You will enter the Louvre through the Glass Pyramid (ground floor). Escalator takes you down (lower ground floor).

The Glass Pyramid was designed by IM Pei and inaugurated on 1st April 1989!

Louvre Museum, Glass Pyramid detail
Louvre Museum, Glass Pyramid detail
Louvre Museum. Glass Pyramid - down the escalator (ground floor- lower level) - fastest route to see the Mona Lisa
Louvre Museum. Glass Pyramid – down the escalator (ground floor- lower level)

5. You will see Information Desk / Information “Musee du Louvre” in front of you. Turn right. Go up the first escalator. (You travel from lower ground floor to ground floor).

Information desk on lower level, Louvre Museum
Information desk on lower level, Louvre Museum
Turn right. Go up the first escalator. (You travel from lower  ground floor to ground floor). Fastest route to see the Mona Lisa
Turn right. Go up the first escalator. (You travel from lower ground floor to ground floor).

Same image, from a higher point:

Go up the first escalator. (You travel from lower  ground floor to ground floor) - upper view. Fastest route to see the Mona Lisa
Go up the first escalator. (You travel from lower ground floor to ground floor) – upper view.

6. You will see the signs for DENON wing in front of you. Go right. Take the lift ahead of you. Go up to 1st floor – elevator panel is marked with “La Joconde”.

Signs that you have reached the DENON wing - fastest route to see the Mona Lisa
Signs that you have reached the DENON wing

Take the elevator ahead of you – sorry about the blurred image, we were in a hurryyyyyy 🙂

The elevator in Denon wing taking you to La Joconde - Mona Lisa, fastest route
the elevator in Denon wing taking you to La Joconde

The road to La Joconde, the Mona Lisa, is very well marked:

signs leading to La Joconde Mona Lisa - fastest route
signs pointing you to La Joconde, Mona Lisa

7. Out of the elevator, ahead of you, there will be a long hallway with artwork. Look for the signs towards “La Joconde”. Well marked.

You will first reach Salon Denon. You want to walk through the door that is opposite the windows.

Salon Denon - the big windows. Use the door opposite. Fastest route to Mona Lisa
Salon Denon – the big windows. Use the door opposite
Salon Denon - go through this door to Mona Lisa - fastest route
Salon Denon – go through this door to Mona Lisa

8. Enter room 711 (or room 8), also known as Salle des États . You are in a small antechamber with paintings:

You enter Room 711 (room 8) of the Louvre Museum, Denon Wing, where the Mona Lisa is located. Fastest route to see the Mona Lisa.
You enter Room 711 (room 8) of the Louvre Museum, Denon Wing, where the Mona Lisa is located.
where to find Mona Lisa in the Louvre
where to find Mona Lisa in the Louvre

9. There are two doors ahead, left and right. Go further through one of them.

On the far wall you see The Wedding Feats at Cana by Veronese, depicting Jesus’ miracles, the biggest painting in the Louvre. Left and right is the exit towards the Grande Gallery.

room 711, Denon wing, Louvre Museum, Mona Lisa is behind this wall. Fastest route.
room 711, Denon wing, Louvre Museum, Mona Lisa is behind this wall

10. You will enter an very big space. Ahead you will see the biggest painting in the Louvre, The Wedding Feast at Cana. Turn sideways to face the wooden barrier and see The Mona Lisa, La Joconde, La Gioconda, the Great Lady of the Louvre.

Mona Lisa. La Joconda. La Gioconda, Denon Wing, room 711, Louvre Museum, fastest route
Mona Lisa. La Joconda. La Gioconda
Salle des États -Salle_de_la_Joconde_-_Musée_du_Louvre_-_large.jpg
Salle des Etats – Mona Lisa seen from the opposite wall, where the painting of The Wedding Feast at Cana hangs.

Going out from room 711, using the exit near the painting of The wedding Feast at Cana, you will get here. If you stand in Grande Gallery, the statue of Artemis marks the door to the room 711, where La Joconde is. (At least when we visited, it did): see the entrance on the right?

Artemis statue in Louvre, in the Grande Galerie, in front of La Joconde room - 711
Artemis statue in Louvre, in the Grande Gallery, in front of La Joconde room – 711

This plan of 1st floor Louvre Museum might help:

Did you know that some say Mona Lisa was a rich Florentine business woman, Leonardo da Vinci’s neighbor. Some say she was his mother. Some say it is a well disguised self-portrait or the portrait of da Vinci’s secret lover. Some even say it is the portrait of the only girl da Vinci was ever in love with.

Certain is that Mona LIsa is one of the Three Ladies of the Louvre, together with Venus de Milo and Nike, The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

the Three Ladies of the Louvre: Mona LIsa, Venus de Milo and Nike,  The Winged Victory of Samothrace.
the Three Ladies of the Louvre: Mona LIsa, Venus de Milo and Nike, The Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Mona Lisa was one of the period’s largest portraits, painted on a single, very thin (12 mm) poplar board.
It reflects Renaissance interest in Platonic theory, when the beauty of the body was seen as that of the soul.
It is not an ostentatious image of a rich bourgeoisie lady: through pose and attire and the absence of eyelashes and eyebrows (in line with the fashion).
Gioconda, in Italian, it means happiness.

NEW: Meeting the ‘Mona Lisa’ for an Intimate (Virtual) Rendezvous

Visitors to the Louvre will experience Leonardo da Vinci’s world through a virtual-reality tour that brings them closer to the masterpiece than ever before. Read more here.

You might also enjoy: A Journey through the Medieval City of Sighisoara.

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Celebrating South Africa’s Heritage Day through Pictures #nature, #music, #books, #culture

Heritage is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as: (1) property that descends to an heir and this is also the first known use of the word, 13th century; (2) something transmitted by or acquired from a predecessor; (3) something possessed as a result of one’s natural situation or birth.

Here, in South Africa, it is the blend of our Rainbow Nation, of our diverse cultures, beliefs and traditions that we celebrate on the 24th of September, on Heritage Day.

In South Africa we love to cook… and eat:

Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Cooking in Franschhoek, South Africa, image by @claudiofonte free on Unsplash.jpg
Food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Local food, image by @adalia free on Unsplash.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Grilling lobster, Die Strandlooper, West Coast Peninsula, image by Unserekleinemaus, free on pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA braai by davyart- free pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
SA biltong. image by Robert-Owen Wahl, free on pixabay.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Samosa, image by @fitnish free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
Cape Town cakes, image by @unserekleinmaus, free on pixabay.jpg
South African koeksisters - food24 dotcom.png
South African koeksisters – food24 dotcom.png

We love music, movies and we love to party:

Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg
Festival of colours, Stellenbosch, Sa, image by @nqoe free on Unsplash.jpg

We search for the spirit of the great heart:

Johnny Clegg – Publicity Images
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Malmesbury, South Africa image by @claudz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg
Singers, image by @chvrlz free on Unsplash.jpg

We have more than one Indie Film Festival:

We love the outdoors:

Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Love for the great outdoors image by @adalia free Unsplash.jpg
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Table Mountain, Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @christianperner
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Baby rhino, Kariega Game Reserve, Grahamstown, South Africa, image by @zoeeee_, free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Enjoying the sun, Cheetah, image by @elenarosaschneider free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Owl, Dullstroom, South Africa, Image by @kyran12 free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Ice-cream man. Bloubergstrand, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @louis_s, free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kapama Private Game Reserve, South Africa, image by @faxmachinerobot free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Kloof, SA, camping,image by @rachel_lees free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Muizenberg Mountains, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @wesleyeland free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg
Waterval Country Lodge, Tulbagh, South Africa, camping, image by @lauren_abrahall free on Unsplash.jpg

We have a diverse economy:

Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town stadium, image by @abo965 free Unplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Cape Town, SA, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Kalk Bay Harbour, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @timalanjohnson free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Sales people, image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
Train, SA, image by @koalamoose free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg
wine-lands, image by @matt_j free on Unsplash.jpg

We are joyful and diverse:

Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, @_entreprenerd
Cape Town, South Africa, image free via Unsplash, created by @_entreprenerd
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
friendship. Image by @bella_the_brave free on Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
happy people Image by @anaya_katlego free Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
motherhood image by @leomoko free on Unsplash.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
penguin love, Boulders Beach, Cape Town, South Africa, image by @pamivey free on Unsplsh.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg
people in Limpopo image by @jaimelopes free on Unsplash.jpg

We use incredible idioms, if you translate them:

And MADIBA, whom we miss each and every day:

Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg
Nelson Mandela Capture Site, Howick, South Africa, image by @randomlies free on Unsplash.jpg

You might also be interested in:

Living At The Cultural And Technological Crossroad

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5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for via @PatFurstenberg #travel #castle #monument #history #culture

5 Remarkable Places You Will Want to Visit After Reading Silent Heroes

Whenever I read a book depicting real locations, actual places I can find on a map, a novel in which genuine artwork is described, and tangible, concrete buildings I know I can also visit are part of its setting, I tend to be more immersed in its story-line. The storytelling becomes more credible and, if by chance or choice, I visit those place I find myself immersed in that particular book again and, often, I pick it up and read it again.

On researching location for my latest novel, “Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for” I discovered a few sensational places; some new to me, secrets buried by history and war, others I have heard of but had not known how inspirational and amazing they were. I know, now, that I’d like to visit them all, one day when traveling to Afghanistan for tourism will be a safe endeavor once again.

1. Buddhas of Bamyan

The two Buddhas of Bamyan - the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001
The two Buddhas of Bamyan – the taller and the smaller one, as they once stood since their construction around 500AD and before the Taliban attack in March 2001 – Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban did not succeed in wiping out the two Buddhas, but they became unrecognizable as the figures they once were. A cultural, religious, historical and entomological symbol and landmark.
It was a bleak day in human history when something that watched over the valley for 1 500 years was destroyed in a matter of weeks.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

The Buddhan of Bamyan were two colossal statues carved during the 6th century into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley, once along the Silk Road, in the central highlands of Afghanistan, 230 km NW of Kabul, its capital city.

The bodies of the Buddhas were carved in the mountain cliff, while delicate details have been modeled out of mud and straw and coated with stucco for resistance. The faces, hands, and folds of the Buddhas’ robes were painted for an enhanced effect. The big Buddha, 53 m tall, was painted carmine red while the smaller Buddha, 35 m tall, was painted in multiple colors. They represented the Buddhas Vairocana and Sakyamuni.

“Taliban forces operating in Afghanistan had destroyed these colossal statues in March 2001. They started by damaging the Buddha with anti-aircraft firearms and cannons. Yet the damage inflicted was not enough for the Taliban. They returned with anti-tank mines that they placed at the statues bases. When sections of rock broke off, the statues suffered further damage.

And still, they did not stop here.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia
Destruction of Buddhas March 21 2001. Source Wikipedia

“The Taliban dropped men down the face of the cliff. They had placed explosives into the various grooves found in the Buddhas. The plan was clear, to completely destroy the facial features of the two statues. Maybe a bad understanding of the Quran: Islam condemns idolatry. When one of the blasts could not destroy the facial features of one statue, a rocket was used in its place. It left a hideous gap in whatever was left of the Buddha’s head.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia
Taller Buddha of Bamiyan before and after destruction. Source, Wikipedia

But there is hope.

7 June 2015: Xinyu Zhang and Hong Liang , a Chinese adventurist couple, created a 3D image of the Buddhas and donated projector used for the installation, worth at $120 000. The 3D projection was able to fill once more the void cavities where the two majestic Buddhas once stood.

2. Qala-e Bost Fortress

“Qala-e-Boost or Bost Fort is the remnant of Alexander the Great’s Fortress in Afghanistan. What still stands today from this millennial old fortress is an impressive ruin. Helmand’s crown jewel is located on the east bank of the Helmand River, near Lashkar Gah, a city in southwestern Afghanistan and the capital of Helmand Province.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

Lashkargah, or Lashkar Gah, means “army barracks” in Persian language.

Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Qala-e-Bost, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

“The stones of Qala-e-Boost have seen wars as well as the joys of celebrations. They have known wealth and ruin. Early hymns of the Zoroastrian religion, one of the oldest religions in the world, were once performed here. One of them was the Nowruz, the famous ceremony dedicated to the Sun and marking the Iranian New Year and the Spring Equinox. Along the years Bost fortress has been used as a guard post for the traditional caravan trade from Iran to India. The Mongols, then the Persians have been here too, then the Arabs, even the Russians. Leaders and warriors came here as attested by the terracotta figurines, the inscribed seals, and the many coins discovered here, and then they left. Still, Bost remained.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia
The famous arch at Qala-i-Bust or Bost, in Helmand. Source Wikipedia

” At noontime, the sun spat yellow venom over the desert surrounding the ruins of the Qala-e-Bost fortress, over this war-cursed land where a misconceived culture and an overpowering international necessity to meddle fatalistically merged, long-stalling the Afghan peace process.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

What is amazing about Qala-e-Bost Fortress is not what is visible above the ground, but what is hidden underneath, the entire Bost castle, 5 levels, being in the shape of a well hidden underground.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for"
Qala-e-Bost Fortress as seen in“Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for”

“As an eerie glow spread over the flat expanse of sand, from his high point Marcos caught a glimpse of what Qala-e-Bost’s crumbling walls would have been in its time of glory. No longer a ghostly silhouette, a mere reminder of an existence long forgotten, but a castle again.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

I researched so much about this underground castle that stood the test of time. It would be incredible to walk its corridors, to see the light bouncing from the walls of its shaft, to hear the echoes of history as it was buried in its secret rooms.

3. An Afghan garden

Gardening says a lot about the nurturing abilities of a person. When an entire population has a gift for gardening it means that they have peace in their hearts and know the value of life.

An Afghan garden
An Afghan garden

I was amazed to discover how much gardening means to the Afghan people and how connected they are to their roots, to the soil of Afghanistan, nurturing or arid. How inventive the Afghans proved to be, making the best out of each situation, when it comes to gardens.

I tried to depict their nurturing nature in the pages of “Silent Heroes“.

“Afghans are gardeners at heart, did you know? Before they are mujahideen or insurgents or Taliban-bloody-criminals, they love to garden.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

4. A Military Base in Afghanistan

Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia
Military camp at Bagram, Afghanistan. Source Wikipedia

During the two years plus it took me to research and write “Silent Heroes” I researched in depth the living conditions of the US Marines deployed in Afghanistan and of all the military fighting there.

2012 army photo competition.Amateur Portrait category runner-up Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West.Picture Captain Richard Willing MoD Crown Copyright via Getty Images
Army Photographic Competition 2012. In this handout image supplied by the Ministry of Defence Crown Copyright, photo entitled ‘LIGHTNING AND HIS HANDLER’, depicting Cpl Dawson and his dog Lightning rest up in TCP West. (Army Amateur Portrait category runner up; Photo by Captain Richard Willing/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images)

What is outstanding is the level of organization and, at the same time, the little comfort these amazing soldiers put up with every day in order to do their duty towards their own countries and to keep peace for us all.

And anything reminding them of home is treasured. Like the small American flag in the image below.

A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images
A U.S. Marine looks out from his post in September at Bost airfield in Helmand province. Andrew Renneisen-Getty Images

“Between the building and the sheet of the tent was a corridor-wide enough for a human to pass through, two would have to negotiate. From a drain pipe facing the main door hung a small size American flag, the one civilians wave on the 4th of July, its sole purpose of connecting them with home.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

5. A field of poppies

In Afghanistan, poppies – opium poppies – mean death and poverty. I, “Silent Heroes” I tried to explain the vicious cycle that poppy cultivation in Afghanistan means. It was fascinating to learn how it started, why, and what its consequences meant for the Afghan population as well as internationally.

A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan
A soldier walking past a poppy field in Afghanistan

“The hamlet’s reputation of frightfulness came from the complete lack of vegetation. As if the poppy field that once flourished nearby sucked away any drop of water that might have concentrated in the adjacent earth, like some type of incongruous alien.”

( Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)

International affairs and their local implications are never as simple as they appear at the beginning.

“So ‘The Golden Triangle’ (Burma, Thailand, Laos) was soon replaced by ‘The Golden Crescent’ (Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran).”

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for)
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia
World Map Opium Heroin. Golden Triangle. Golden Crescent. Source Wikipedia

Still, there is something magical about a field of poppies. I think that poppies seeds, with their ability to remain dormant throughout the years, are a fantastic representation of what hope and resilience is all about. Never give up.

Maybe because poppy has a long association with Remembrance Day. Why? Scarlet poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed, arid earth throughout the world. Poppies grew naturally after the Napoleonic wars of the 19th Century and again on battlefields of WW1.

An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset
An old, happy short-haired pointer dog in a poppy field at sunset

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, “In Flanders Fields”

I hope you enjoyed reading about the five locations that inspired and amazed me while writing “Silent Heroes“.

Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes: When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for – New Contemporary Fiction by Patricia Furstenberg

Do you have a favorite place you read about in a book?

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Symbolism in Silent Heroes, the Story behind it via @PatFurstenberg #symbolism #fiction #history #writerslife

Symbolism in Silent Heroes

I still remember attending my first lecture on symbolism . My own studies were as far from literature and art as the moon is from the man who occupies it.

I was studying medical dentistry when a friend and I went to the University of History and Art to attend a lecture on symbolism in art. It was late one evening when we opened the massive door leading to a cosmic-size amphitheater packed with excited faces.

Happiness can be found anywhere. Sometimes you just need to search harder or ask for someone to help you discover it. A US Marine, his MWD, military working dog and Afghan boys.
Happiness can be found anywhere. Sometimes you just need to search harder or ask for someone to help you discover it. A US Marine, his MWD, military working dog and Afghan boys.

Used to look at dead bodies laying on an autopsy table, to squint inside them while trying to discern the shriveled femoral nerve from the already gray artery, I was struck by the excitement short-circuiting everyone attending the lecture and the amount of information hidden in plain view, underneath layers of colorful paint.

I was hooked and, although I may not have earned a degree in art, the keen interest in symbolism has sipped into my pores for good.

Symbology - 'In God we Trust'.  (Army Photographic Competition 2012 - Pro Portfolio winner; Photo by SSgt Nesbit RLC/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images)
‘In God we Trust’. (Army Photographic Competition 2012 – Pro Portfolio winner; Photo by SSgt Nesbit RLC/MoD/Mandatory Credit Crown Copyright via Getty Images) These include a simple disk with a cross cut out which he wore with his identity (Dog) tags, and an American coin dated 1988, the year of his birth. The soldier who wanted to remain unidentified carried these with him all the time whilst he served in Afghanistan on Operation Herrick 15 for luck.

Was symbolism introduced in “Silent Heroes” intentionally?

On writing “Silent Heroes” I did not plan to include symbolism. It wasn’t a voluntary act, like research had been, or plotting the outline of the story, building my characters. Including symbolical elements was a work of my sly subconscious mind. It’s been the work of my cerebellum, you can say. Anatomy having its own play over art.

I do not expect readers to pick up on the symbolism used or to interpret it in the same way. I think this is very much connected to how our minds are wired. Some of us see things that others don’t, because they are not important to them. I does not mean that the first group hallucinates, or that the second group is inattentive.

The Purple Sunbird, (Cinnyris asiaticus) is found in the dry zone from the Arabian Peninsula into Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan until the dry zone of Rajasthan and Gujarat.
The Purple Sunbird, (Cinnyris asiaticus) is found in the dry zone from the Arabian Peninsula into Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan until the dry zone of Rajasthan and Gujarat.

Has symbolism in “Silent Heroes” been consciously manipulated at any stage during the writing process?

Now, this would imply that, at some stage during the writing of “Silent Heroes“, I picked up on some symbols introduced in the story-line. Which I did. Once I became conscious of the implications these symbolism will have on the narrative, I kept developing that thread. I did not removed it, since it was introduced organically and not voluntarily.

I felt that if I will remove the symbols, the story will be less rich, the characters, at least some of them, will lose their credibility. And myself, as a writer, will lose the passion for the telling of the story of these “Silent Heroes“, passion that had fueled me for over two years.

A book thrown in the dust.
A book thrown in the dust.

Can other symbols be discovered in “Silent Heroes”?

Other symbols, besides the ones my subconscious mind placed and my conscious mind picked up? I believe so, as I trust the reader’s creative minds as well as the connection I hope they will establish this book.

Lady Tulip - Tulipa clusiana From Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the western Himalayas
Lady Tulip – Tulipa clusiana From Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and the western Himalayas

Is symbolism for real?

Is air real? Is the language we speak real? Is the sky blue? Humans have a innate ability and desire for creating things out of nothing. Buildings out of dust, worlds out of words, art out of dreams.

And humans also need to communicate. Writers communicate through their books. Language itself is a symbolic form of communication. Symbols used by artists, and therefore by writers, are placed – subconsciously or not – to help channel the results of their work. The end product. Much like a painter creating a portrait, an architect, a building that lasts, writers stir their stories using symbols, where appropriate.

The journey a writer takes when creating a book is anchored in his dreams and imagination, but it is stirred by the hidden symbolism which is also a product of his own mind.

A gardener and his garden in Afghanistan. Afghans are avid garners.
A gardener and his garden in Afghanistan. Afghans are avid garners.

Images of symbolism in “Silent Heroes” *****SPOILER ALERT*****

Without spoiling the plot, I will list a few of the symbols I unconsciously introduced in my latest work of fiction “Silent Heroes, When Love and Values Are Worth Fighting for”.

An Afghan butterfly on a soldier's sleeve.
An Afghan butterfly on a soldier’s sleeve.

You do not have to read past this point if you have not read “Silent Heroes” yet. You can have a sneak peek here.

You could skip the very short, last paragraph, and return to it after reading “Silent Heroes”.

Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for
Silent Heroes, When Love and Faith Are Worth Fighting for

Some of the symbols found in “Silent Heroes” are:

Qala-e-Bost Fortress, Afghanistan
Qala-e-Bost, Afghansitan

The blue bird.

The book in the dust.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress.

Poppy flowers.

The Afghan garden.

What do they symbolize?

I suggest you don’t go past this point if you haven’t read “Silent Heroes” yet. First read the book, then return and see if your thoughts and mine converge.

Symbolism in Silent Heroes
Symbolism in Silent Heroes

To me, the blue bird symbolizes the spirit of Emma’s mother, as well as hope in another chance for happiness. A reminder that hope exists, no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

The book in the dust symbolizes the disrespect for human life and human wrights. Books are a well of wisdom and the product of hard, assiduous work. They don’t belong in the dirt, just like human life does not.

Qala-e-Bost Fortress symbolizes the upright spirit of the Afghan people, still standing after centuries of wars and oppression. And just like the people of Afghanistan, through its architecture, it is deeply rooted in its land, drawing strength from it.

Poppy flowers are both a symbol of the blood spilled in Afghanistan and of the never-ending struggle for survival of the Afghan people. Poppies are extremely resilient, they can grow under harsh weather conditions, although they look so fragile. But poppies are also deadly plants in the sense that farming them caught so many innocent souls in the loop of poverty and addiction.

The Afghan Garden symbolizes Heaven and hope in a land devastated by wars. Just as Heaven transcends all spirits and gods, being present in all religions, all people, no matter of their religion, sex or skin color, are equal in the eyes of God.

Have you discovered other symbols after reading “Silent Heroes“? Tell me about them, I’d love to hear from you.

Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg
Silent Heroes by Patricia Furstenberg

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Notre-Dame de Paris, a Visit before the April 2019 fire via @patfurstenberg #NotreDame #tourism #culture #poetry

Over 12 millions tourists visit Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris every year. It may seem like a vast number, but compare it to the billions who haven’t even heard of this breathtaking, this époustouflante church nestled on a tiny island in the City of Lights and you can consider yourself lucky to be one of those few millions. We were. We are, went through my mind as we dumbfounded witnessed her (for the French consider their monuments of art to be of feminine genre) burn on in the evening of Monday 15 April 2019 during a LIVE TV broadcast . We’ve visited the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris in August 2018. I want to share with you a tiny fraction of the marvels we saw.

Getting there…

To visit “Our Lady of Paris” or The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris on Ile de la Cité (one of the two Parisian islands on Seine) you can take the Line 4 metro (M4 purple) or use one of the five bridges that connect the island to the rest of Paris. Do use the metro (Métropolitain, Métro de Paris) when in Paris, it is super fast, reliable, easy to use and super fun.

The Ile de la Cité metro station (stop for the Notre Dame Cathedral) was opened on 10 December 1910 .

Metropolitan - Cite Metro station near Notre-Dame de Paris - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Metropolitan – Ile de la Cite Metro station near Notre-Dame de Paris

Here is the first sight of the Paris Notre Dame Cathedral, the precious 300 foot (91.44 meters) spire lost in the fire that engulfed most of this magnificent church in April 2019.

The Notre Dame’s spire was a key component of the Paris skyline and it one of the first things you see as you search for this medieval cathedral. Perhaps not many know that this spire, first erected in 13th century, was damaged before, at the end of 18th century and replaced in 19th century using a design by architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.

Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris and spire – as seen from Ile de la Cite Metro station, August 2018

Slender arm outstretched

She reaches for her Father.

Notre Dame’s spire.

(Spire, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

From the metro station, as you hurried footsteps take you along Rue de Lutèce then Rue de la Cité and you round the corner towards left, you are suddenly rewarded, faced with a beautiful square bordered by shady trees and behind it, closer than it might appear and so modest in its centuries-old fame, awaits, always awaits, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral facade -  photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral facade

Icon, Gothic bride,

Graced with long lines, rose windows.

Awaits your prayers.

(Notre Dame of Paris, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a place of worship before being a historical landmark.

Front facade (west facade):

As in any Christian church, the altar faces east, away from us. The main entrance will therefore be through west. As you stand in front of the cathedral, left hand side is north, right hand side is south.

Notice the two 69-meter (228-feet) tall towers and the spire (at the back) raising between them. The famous bell sounded by Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo is the North Tower (left side and slightly bigger). The South Tower (right) houses the cathedral’s famous and oldest bell, “Emmanuel” (recast in 1631). This bell was the only one that was not melted down to become a cannon during the French Revolution.

Also worth noticing are: the “Galerie des Chimères” or Grand Gallery – it connects the two towers. Here is where the cathedral’s legendary gargoyles (chimères) are found and the King’s Gallery (a line of 28 statues of Kings of Judah and Israel – placed right above the three arches or portals).

Notre Dame Cathedral -West entrance and facade- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral -West entrance and facade: North (left) and South (right) towers, the spire showing between them, the Grand Gallery and the King’s Gallery underneath.

Of hope and promise

Her white rose blooms set in stone.

A new beginning.

(Rose Window, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

Right in the middle of the west facade is the beautiful West Rose Window dating from about 1220. It is 9.6meters in diameter and its glass was recreated in the 19th century.

A rose window is any circular widow, especially used in Gothic style constructions and depicting a detailed design like a multi-petaled rose. Why a rose? Perhaps because the rose flower is a symbol of balance, of hope and new beginnings.

Notre Dame Cathedral rose window exterior - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – the West Rose window exterior also known as The Virgin’s Balcony

All along the front of the west rose window is the balcony of the Virgin with the statue of the Virgin with Child guarded by two angels Do you notice how the rose window forms a halo behind the statues of Mary and those of the angels?

Notre Dame Cathedral rose window exterior statues - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral rose window exterior statues

Pure eternal bliss,

Angel kiss on baby’s cheek.

Our Mother’s love.

(Mother Love, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

On the main, west facade of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris one cannot miss the three (west) portals (not identical), magnificent examples of early Gothic art. They were sculpted in the 13th century with the purpose of teaching bible lessons to the peasants that could not read, but came all the way to this church to pray to God.

Notre Dame Cathedral under sunlight - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral under sunlight

She always awaits.

Sun, mist, snow… blazing fire.

Our blessed Lady.

(Notre Dame, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Center Portal – The Last Judgment Portal

This is the largest of the three portals. The space between two portals is called a buttresses. Each buttress has a niche that houses a statue.

Notre Dame Cathedral - west entrance detail above main portal - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – west entrance detail above central portal – the tympanum

The sculpture above depicts the Last Judgement. Above the sculpture thee are archivolts with lots pf saint sculptures.

The Right Portal – Portal of St. Anne (the Virgin Mary’s mother)

The Left Portal – Portal of the Virgin

Notice the three parts of the tympanum. On the top part there is a scene depicting the Coronation of the Virgin, with an angel crowning Mary.

Underneath, the top lintel depicts the Death of the Virgin – Mary lies on her death bed surrounded by Jesus and the 12 Apostles. Underneath is the bottom lintel with three Old Testament prophets (left) and three Old Testament kings (right) holding scrolls with Christ ‘s prophecies.

Notre Dame Cathedral - left portal photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – left portal

Solid, tactile pray

Centuries encased in stone.

Hopeful new whispers.

(Statue, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

Notre Dame Cathedral - West entrance left portal - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – West entrance left portal, Virgin Mary’s

On the left side of Saint Mary’s portal there are the door-jamb statues: Emperor Constantine, an angel, Saint Denis holding his head, another angel.

Notre Dame Cathedral - Saint Denis holding his head and two angel- photo Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Saint Denis holding his head and two angel – left side of Virgin Mary’s Portal

On the right side of Saint Mary’s portal there are more door-jamb statues: Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve and Pope Saint Sylvester.

Notre Dame Cathedral - Statues of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve, Pope Saint Sylvester on Portail de la Vierge - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Statues of Saint John the Baptist, Saint Stephen, Saint Genevieve, Pope Saint Sylvester on right side of Portal de la Vierge

Between the two doors of Virgin Mary’s portal there is a statue of Mary and Child. When we visited Notre Dame of Paris there was a bird’s nest in Mary’s crown… Always hope.

Madonna with Child, Portal of the Virgin -Notre Dame Cathedral - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Madonna with Child, Portal of the Virgin -Notre Dame Cathedral

Shelter in winter,

Cover from rain, blazing sun.

Love’s many faces.

(Mary’s Love, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

At the very left of Virgin Mary’s portal (the left portal) is the Statue of Saint Stephen.

Saint Stephen -Notre Dame Cathedral - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Saint Stephen -Notre Dame Cathedral

Here is a view at the King’s Gallery (a line of 28 statues of Kings of Judah and Israel) – above the three west portals. The original statues were placed there in the 13th century. Sadly, during the French Revolution they were mistaken for kinds, pulled down and decapitated. New statues were later sculpted by Geoffroi-Dechaume. In 1977, 143 remains of the decapitated statues were discovered and can now be seen at the Middle-Ages Museum (Hôtel de Cluny).

To be so small…

Notre Dame Cathedral - looking up 2. photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Notre Dame Cathedral – looking up

I am child again,

Safety, acceptance, peace, love.

In God’s Home, my church.

(Home, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

Notre Dame Cathedral - looking up. photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg

Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris before the April 2019 fire

A view along the enormously tall and long nave (130 meters long, with double isles left and right), towards the altar, while standing in the (west) entrance. The nave can accommodate 6500 worshipers.

All the columns that support the vault are identical, although they reach different parts of the six part vault. Because of this our eye is led all the way to the altar.

Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling main nave view 1 - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – the ceiling above main nave view 1

Right above the altar rose the Cathedral’s flèche or spire that sadly collapsed in a mass of led and charred wood in the April 2019 fire.

The Altar

solemn interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with stained glass windows and altar with cross and crucifix - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
solemn interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris with stained glass windows and altar with cross and crucifix

Left and right of the high altar are the kneeling statues of Louis XIII and Louis XIV. At the back we have a glimpse of theouble ambulatory.

Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pieta - photo by Lysandra Frustenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pieta

In front of the cross found on the altar is the Pietà statue by Nicolas Coustou. They both escaped unharmed from the April 2019 fire. How unbelievably amazing is that, considering that the spire that collapsed rose right above them? Did you know that pietà means “pity”, “compassion’? A pietà is Christian art sculpture depicting
the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus.

Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pieta 2 - photo by Lysandra Frustenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral view of High Altar and Pietà – close up

The Rose Windows

The North rose window, 12,9 meters in diameter, has almost all the original stained glass dating back to the 13th century. Its central medallion is dedicated to Virgin Mary.

A beautiful N rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral-photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
A North beautiful rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral including lower 18 vertical windows
Notre Dame Cathedral - N rose window (about 1260, rebuilt in 1861) photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
The north rose window of Notre Dame, Paris. Built in 1250 AD rebuilt in 1861

Sun’s prayer on glass,

Life giving rainbow indoors.

Bright, solid liquid.

(Stained Glass, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The South rose window, 12.9 m in diameter, 84 panes ( donated by King St. Louis and installed around 1260) was affected by the French Revolution and both World Wars. Its stained glass window dates from 1845. The south window is dedicated to Christ as south receives the most sunlight, more illumination (in the northers hemisphere) – associated with the coming again of Christ thus being the most alight between the two rose windows of the transept.

Looking up towards a beautiful S rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral-photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Looking up towards a beautiful South rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral

After multiple repairs throughout the centuries its panes are now out of order. The architect Viollet-le-Duc rotated the entire rose with 15° to create horizontal and vertical axes for stability in the masonry.

Notre Dame Cathedral South rose stained window and ceiling - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral south rose stained window and ceiling

The Stained Glass Windows

Beautiful lighting through the stained windows. The lighting inside the Notre Dame Cathedral is never the same as the outside daylight plays different shades on its stained glass windows.

Notre Dame Cathedral - stained glass windows detail -photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – stained glass windows detail

The elegant stained windows of Notre Dame Cathedral depict religious stories. Although some of them were destroyed during the World Wars, some are even originals from the Middle Ages.

Above the isle there is a (with windows as well) and above are the clerestory windows. Notice there is one arch on the bottom level, then three arches above, then the windows.

Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows along the North and South aisles
Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows along the North and South aisles

Shimmers in the air,

Red, green, yellow, blue – festoon.

My prayers upbeat.

(Church Mood, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The original clerestory windows were just a rose window and up above was just wall. The cathedral was much darker. So below, the left bottom image shows an original clerestory window (except that above the round window it would have been wall).

Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows  - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral stained glass windows

Lighting with color through the stained glass windows of the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.

The clerestory windows are the little windows right at the top. They have no crosspiece dividing the light.

Notre Dame Cathedral - clerestory windows, photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – clerestory windows

The light pouring through a stained glass window always differ – with your distance from the window, the angle you see the window at, the time of day or season. It is always a good idea to revisit a church, if time permits. It will be a whole new experience. Spiritually too.

Notre Dame Cathedral - Saint Mary Statue and stained glass window in one of the side altars of the ambulatory - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Saint Mary Statue and stained glass window in one of the side altars of the ambulatory

Each stained glass window has a biblical story to tell.

Notre Dame Cathedral - stained glass windows details - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – stained glass windows details

Is this statue looking away from us or is he absorbed by something small, at his feet?

Notre Dame Cathedral - statue in the aisle - notice the high vaults and the inner row of columns- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – statue in the aisle – notice the high vaults and the inner row of columns

The Chandeliers

There are 27 chapels inside Notre Dame of Paris, their entrances marked by chandeliers. These chandeliers are a symbol of the light of God and were know as “Crowns of Light” during the Middle Ages.

Notre Dame Cathedral - columns and chandeliers - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – columns and chandeliers

Lighting up a candle is such a personal, spiritual experience.

Notre Dame Cathedral - prayer candles - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – prayer candles

Heart wrenched secrets, hopes.

Embodied in a flicker.

Candles speak to God.

(Candles, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Transept

The transept, perpendicular on the nave, forms the big body cross of a church. Notre Dame of Paris has a rather narrow transept as it has been built after its nave. At each end of the transept we find a big, rose window, the North and the South.

Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling main nave view 2 - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg.jpg
Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling main nave view above the transept.

If memory serves me right, this medallion mural of Mary and Jesus surrounded by gold stars on blue sky was in the middle of transept, above the altar. The great spire would have rose above it.

Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling mural - Mary and Jesus gold stars on blue sky photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral ceiling mural – Mary and Jesus gold stars on blue sky

Brighter than the moon

In its magical glory.

Prayer for my home.

(Star, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The area where the choir members sit is located behind the transept and shielded by this Gothic wood screen.

Notre Dame Cathedral interior detail, stone column and wooden panel depicting the life of Jesus- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral interior detail, stone column and wooden panel depicting the life of Jesus

Medieval wood sculpture on the chancel screen in Notre Dame de Paris depicting biblical scenes – below.

Medieval wood sculpture on the chancel screen in Notre Dame de Paris depicting biblical scenes - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Medieval wood sculpture on the chancel screen in Notre Dame de Paris depicting biblical scenes

Great image standing in the ambulatory, looking up through one of the arches, looking up into the vault. Have you ever tried to steal an unconventional peek inside a cathedral or museum? See things from a different perspective, literally.

Notre Dame Cathedral - interior 1- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – interior

This would be a view from the North ambulatory. You can see the North Rose Window and the stained glass windows of the north aisle.

Notre Dame Cathedral - interior 1- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – interior

The Vaulted Ceiling

Notice the six part of the 12th century vault. The clerestory windows are 13th century.

Notre Dame Cathedral - vaulted ceiling - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – vaulted ceiling

One lesson I learned from our visit to France: always look up. The ceilings, the vaults are often overlooked and are simply magnificent. A work of art in their own right. Just think of all the forces that keep them together. Right above your head.

Notre Dame Cathedral - vaulted ceiling 2- photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – vaulted ceiling

On each side of the vault notice the isle, above it the galley (with windows as well) and above the clerestory windows. What a beautiful elevation.

The Pipe Organ

Notre Dame Cathedral - view along the nave towards the main entrance and vaulted ceiling - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – view along the nave towards the main entrance and vaulted ceiling

I love the space above my head when I sit in a church.

Notre Dame Cathedral - view of organ, West rose window and Angel statue standing above the main entrance - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – view of organ, West rose window and Angel statue standing above the main entrance

Did you know that your entry in the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, is blessed by this Angel placed atop the entry doors?

Notre Dame Cathedral - Angel statue standing above the main entrance - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Angel statue standing above the main entrance

Bless  those near by,

Hear their prayers, see their hearts.

Sings the Angel still.

(Notre Dame Angel, a haiku by Patricia Furstenberg)

The Notre Dame Cathedral Great Organ was one of the world’s most famous musical instruments consisting of almost 8 000 pipes, playing five keyboards, parts of it dating back to medieval times. It has been often renovated over the years but it still contained pipes from the Middle Ages before the April 2019 fire.

Notre Dame Cathedral Pipe Organs and West Rose window - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral Pipe Organs and West Rose window – photo by Lysandra Furstenberg

Sculptures

Christ on cross-great bronze crucifix was a gift from Napoleon III. Napoleon III (Louis-Napoleon) married here Empress Eugénie de Montijo in 1853. He was 45 years old, she was 23 and would not succumb to his charms without a marriage. Later Napoleon III
restored the flèche, or spire, of this Cathedral, a work carried by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

It was Napoleon I, Napoleon Bonaparte, to be crowned King in Notre Dame Cathedral on 2 December 1804.

Notre Dame Cathedral -Christ on cross-great bronze crucifix was a gift from Napoleon III. photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral -Christ on cross-great bronze crucifix was a gift from Napoleon III.

A painted wood sculpture in scenes from the life of Christ, the risen Christ appears to the holy women, Wood painted panel inside Notre Dame Cathedral

Scenes from the life of Christ, the risen Christ appears to the holy women, Wood painted panel inside Notre Dame Cathedral. Image by Lysandra Furstenberg
Scenes from the life of Christ, the risen Christ appears to the holy women, Wood painted panel inside Notre Dame Cathedral
Notre Dame Cathedral - Virgin Mary icon and painted statue - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – Virgin Mary icon and painted statue

So much dedication and work goes in a sculpture. Dare I compare it to the work that it is poured inside a novel?

Notre Dame Cathedral - interior: stone carving and column detail - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral – interior: stone carving and column detail

Cloister detail in Notre Dame Cathedral, interior -Statue and stained glass window

Notre Dame Cathedral interior = Statue and stained glass window - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral interior -Statue and stained glass window

Hopeful stretching towards the sky.

North facade of Notre Dame showing the exterior of the north rose window - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
North facade of Notre Dame showing the exterior of the north rose window

A different view of the Notre Dame Cathedral: from atop the Eiffel Tower.

Notre Dame Cathedral seen from top Eiffel Tower - photo by Lysandra Furstenberg
Notre Dame Cathedral seen from top Eiffel Tower

“But noble as it has remained while growing old, one cannot but regret, cannot but feel indignant at the innumerable degradations and mutilations inflicted on the venerable pile, both by the action of time and the hand of man, regardless alike of Charlemagne, who laid the first stone, and Philip Augustus, who laid the last. On the face of this ancient queen of our cathedrals, beside each wrinkle one invariably finds a scar. ‘Tempus edax, homo edacior,’ which I would be inclined to translate: ‘Time is blind, but man is senseless.’” (Victor Hugo – The Hunchback of Notre Dame)

Embedded in the stone and concrete outside the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris is this geographic marker. It is used to measure all distances away from Paris. It is Paris Point Zero.

All roads lead to Notre Dame Cathedral
All roads lead to Notre Dame Cathedral – Paris Point Zero.

A useful detailed floor plan of Notre Dame Cathedral, source Wikipedia. When visiting a monument or a museum having a detailed floor plan is an excellent idea.

The Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris - floor plan. Source wikipedia
The Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris – floor plan.

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