Saturday, February 14, 2015

La Madeliene, The Louvre and Notre Dame

Day 4

Wednesday was set aside for getting to know the heart of Paris by burning up some good old shoe leather. We set out from the hotel to walk to The Louvre. Along the way we encountered the monstrously huge Le Madeleine.

La Madeliene*

The Altar at La Madeliene*

In all my visits to Paris I never realized La Madeliene was actually a huge Catholic church. Somehow I had always thought it was some sort of national archive.

In reality La Madeliene began in 1182 when Bishop Maurice De Sully seized a Jewish Synagogue and reconsecrated it as a Catholic church. In 1757 a new church was designed using the Latin cross with dome design. Construction was begun in 1763 and was halted in less than a year.

Nothing happened again until 1777 when a new architect was selected to plan the church. He razed all of the earlier work and planning a completely different church based on Rome's Pantheon. But then the French revolution began and by 1789 with only the foundations and portico complete, construction stopped again.

As the country entered its post revolutionary period lots of ideas were considered how best to use the partially built church. That was settled in 1806 when Napoleon decreed La Madeliene should be an army memorial ad brought in another new architect.

Upon Napolean's fall, Louis XVIII assumed power and decreed that La Madeliene should be a church. Louis brought on a new architect (given up counting yet?) who worked on a church plan until the July Monarchy when a power shift once again decided it should be monument of national reconciliation...... 

or a train station.

By 1842 La Madeliene was consecrated as a church and just 7 years later gained international prominence as the site of Chopin's funeral. With such a fascinating and turbulent history it is heartbreaking to see it in its present horrible state of decay.

We then walked a few blocks to the Place de la Concorde to see where the Guillotine's operated during the revolution. From here we went on to spend many (many) hours in the Louvre.

Winter At The Louvre*

Diana Of the Hunt
(Pierre - Nicolas Beauvallet 1799)

It is amazing how I always anticipate spending 2-3 hours at the Louvre and (without realizing it) wind up spending more like 10 hours. Time just disappears. And, despite all that walking, I barely scratch the surface of France's finest collection of art treasures.

The Young Martyr
(Paul Delaroche 1855)

But, of course The Louvre is far more than an art museum. Its history parallels the modern history of France itself. The building began as a fortress in the 12th century and then was developed over time into a royal palace. It served as a palace until 1682 when Louis XIV opted to move his royal residence to Versailles. In 1776 the decision was made to convert portions of the palace into a peoples museum.

Ceiling The Napoleon III Apartments

The Tomb of Phillipe Pot 1843*

A Vase Detail
The evening was capped with views of Notre Dame. Along the way we did lots of window-shopping and people watching.

I love Paris....

Roadboy's Travels © 2015

(*Thanks to Scott for the Photos)

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