Église Notre-Dame

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2 Place Notre Dame, Dijon, France

Église Notre-Dame Dijon Reviews

planxty planxty
176 reviews
Beware of flying gargoyles! May 01, 2017
By the time I inadvertently came upon the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon in the centre of that most beautiful old city I really was suffering somplete sensory overload. I had started the morning in Nancy which is no less than a UNESCO World Heritage Site and then found myself wandering round Dijon which, in my humble and totally uneducated opinion, should be. I literally did not know where to look next. OK, I had a half an idea there was a big church nearby as I could see the top of it even above the closely packed streets of fairly tall medieval buildings that been holding me in thrall and naturally I had to go and investigate.

In truth I thought this must be the Cathedral as I know the city was big enough and important enough historically to warrant one, which it does, but that is elsewhere. This is the Church of Notre-Dame of Dijon and I must say I have been in much less majestic cathedrals around the world. This is such a superb monument to a God I do not even believe in although that is irrelevant, it is a subject I have mentioned before on this journal and won't labour the point here.

The front of the church is a slightly unusual configuration of two tiers of pillared openings above the three main entrance ways but it contains absolutely my favourite feature of the whole building which are the amazing gargoyles which the reader really should have a look at. They are only late 19th century replacements of previous incarnations and are merely decorative rather than functional but they are very beautiful if gargoyles can ever be said to be beautiful. Legend has it that the original gargoyles were removed shortly after the church was opened in 1220 with the building replacing an earlier one on the site. The reason for the removal was that one of the original gargoyles allegedly fell on the head of a usurer standing outside waiting to be married and killed him instantly. Strangely, the gargoyle was a image of a usurer which is a bit spooky. The whole front facade is completed by two turrets which I also found a slightly unuusal feature.

On entering the church the thing that struck me most forcefully, as it often does in such buildings, was the sheer height of the vaulted roof. How 13th century workmen with only the most primitive tools, scaffolding and so on managed such a feat never ceases to amaze me. What makes it the more remarkable is that due to constraints of available space there are no external buttresses as is usual but the entire structure is supported internally.

Features of note include two automatons used to tell the time and an external statue of an owl which is said to grant wishes if you touch it with your left hand whilst making one. The owl is also now the "mascot" of the city and even features on the badge of the local football (soccer) club. Whilst these are secular features, the main item of sacred interest is undoubtedly the Notre-Dame de Bon-Espoir aka the Black Madonna to whom various miracles have been attributed not least causing the Swiss Army to lift a siege in 1513 and the Nazi German forces to up sticks and go away in 1944.

One way and another this is a superb church building in a country that is certainly not short of them and is hugely recommended for the visitor to Dijon.
Eglise Notre Dame de Dijon.
Eglise Notre Dame de Dijon.
An unusual facade, Eglise Notre Da…
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photo by: planxty