From a distance the massive, rose window dominates the south facade of Notre Dame cathedral.  Up close, or as close as the park railings will let you go, you can start to focus on the details lower down.  Part of the facade is obscured by some overgrown elder trees but, although this is supposed to be a blog about plants, parks and gardens, the trees don’t get a look in this time.

Last week I posted some photos of the Porte Rouge, a small doorway on the north side of the cathedral.  There I could get up close to the carvings to see all the different elements of the decoration.  Stepping back and looking up, at the west front or here on the side facing towards the river Seine, it’s easy to take in the impressive bulk and silhouette of the cathedral without really seeing the extraordinary complexity of layer upon layer of carved stone.  Looking up on a grey day is easy on the eyes, but you still get a crick in the neck.

You could spend hours here with a long lens, photographing each pinnacle, gargoyle, carved face, rosette of leaves or decorative frieze on one small section of one face of the building. The work which went into carving all those details, as the cathedral was assembled stone by stone, is really quite mind boggling.

Started in 1163, the cathedral was completed around the middle of the fourteenth century, two hundred years later. The major renovation of the building, in the nineteenth century, took another twenty years. ‘Ornate’ doesn’t even start to describe it.


In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate.”