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Gothic Glimpses …

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Notre-Dame, Paris

I remember flipping through the pages of my Lonely Planet guide and reading up on Notre Dame – my destination for Day 3 in Paris. The book talked about Gothic architectural styles and facades.It described all kinds of things – pointed arches, high ceilings , ribbed vaults , flying buttresses , grotesque gargoyles and much more .I don’t remember finishing my study.  I might have soon slipped into sleep only to be disturbed by some distant war like sounds , people shouting vehemently – as if some one was under attack . I paid careful attention and the sounds of clamor grew deeper and deeper.My mind knew it had to take action.Taking the main door and stairs didn’t seem to be good idea.Even staying put in the room wasn’t a clever option.My eyes quickly scanned the room and fixed themselves on a window.I heard hurried footsteps and screams approaching .I knew I had to jump out to save my life .

I made my way through the window and fell into clumps of grass.As I was waddling through these tall,dense grasslands I spotted lit up eyes which began creeping silently through the grass towards me.There was no stopping now.I ran frantically not ever looking back.Anxious and breathless ,I reached a lake.The night was blue, a full moon bedazzled in the sky.The wind was howling  .I could see a silhouette of tall towers and flickering lights from a distance and decided to take abode for the night at this seemingly abandoned castle.

Every thing about this place was very diabolical.The wooden door grated against its rusty hinges.Menacing goblins jutted out from various facades of this archaic structure, staring intensely, wanting to be provoked.I gulped my fear and stepped in.The inside was enormous but frightening.The ceiling looked like a rib cage of skeleton. The interiors had barbarous lack of taste and elegance.I noticed an altar upfront.It could be an old cathedral ,I thought to myself.As I stepped towards the altar,the door behind me suddenly slammed shut !

And Boom ! I woke up all terrified ,only to realize that my hostel roommate just left banging the door behind.All for reading on Gothic architecture right before you sleep. I gave myself a silly smile for so hopelessly falling trap to my nightmare.Got out of bed,did my morning chores and boarded the metro to Saint-Michel-Notre-Dame.

To my amazement , Notre-Dame was everything I saw in my dream.I stood there astonished, thunderstruck.Only this time it was daylight and flocks of tourists were clicking selfies with it in the background.This couldn’t be real.I took hasty steps inside to discover the same high ceilings ,ribbed vaults, pointed arches, flying buttresses , strange gargoyles.The only difference was there were these gigantic panes of stained glass windows that filtered light and transformed the place from being dismal and morbid to  pleasant and devotional.I stood there appreciating the beauty that this cathedral encapsulated within itself. Still dazed from my dream , I made my way to the terrace to pay a visit to my beloved gargoyles and then took a stroll around Notre-Dame , carefully analyzing all of its architectural details – quite a stark contrast to my Gothic glimpses ….

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The various facades of Notre-Dame

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Interiors of Notre-Dame

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Exteriors of Notre-Dame

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One of the rose windows

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One of the stained glass windows

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Backside of Notre-Dame

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Le Stryge, Notre Dame ( right ). This particular gargoyle, is probably the most famous – if not infamous – of Notre Dame’s Gothic gargoyles, and hence might also claim to be the world’s most recognized grotesque stone-carved figure. Known as Le Stryge, or the vampire, this brooding figure also presents a somewhat comical visage with its tongue sticking out and hunched demeanor )


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