Sunday, May 25, 2008

Paris: chapels, churches and cathedrals (1)

France is a secular state, but for centuries was Catholic, and the historical legacy, at least, is evident for all to see through many buildings that are still places of worship.

Friday was my first full day and en route to the Hôtel National des Invalides, I popped into the Church of St. Francis Xavier:

Church of St. Francois Xavier

It's not much to look at from the outside and it is located in the midst of busy roads, but inside it's quite ornate (at least compared with churches in the UK) and generally they are quiet and peaceful, very convenient when wishing to pause for reflection or simply escape the milieu:

L'Eglise St François Xavier: view along nave to the altar

(the ceiling depicts the apostles of Jesus, including Paul, "Apostle to the Gentiles")

Moving on, I soon came to the Eglise du Dome at the Hôtel des Invalides - architecturally grander, more elegant, more eloquent:

l'Eglise du Dome, l'Hotel des Invalides

Inside it is more elaborate, with classical scenes depicted on a large scale inside the dome,

Ceiling art, Eglise du Dome

It's conveys a lot of power, but not much spirituality - like most of what was on display in the building it celebrated battles, wars etc of the rather mundane kind. :-( However, at least the nursing role - as indicated in the title of the building - continues to this day, so many thousands of wounded have received good care and treatment.


I did a lot of walking on Friday - I proceeded towards the Eiffel tower, lingered for a short while underneath it, crossed the river and headed into the Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine, a high profile architecture and heritage museum, where there are several hundred plaster-cast reproductions of church architecture spanning medieval, Gothic and Renaissance periods, complete with accompanying murals:

Mural, Cité de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine

However, one of the most interesting exhibits depicted a famous Catalan church, La Sagrada Familia, in Meccano ...!

La tour en jeu: La Sagrada Familia

This corner of the museum was a competition area, containing many toy building blocks waiting to be composed into fabulous monuments. When I was a young child, Lego was one of my favourite toys and I would would have wanted to stay hours and hours designing skyscrapers!

1 comment:

Ranjeet said...

For many centuries, Paris has been a stronghold of the catholic church. As a result a large number of monumental churches,chapels were built in the city.I have been to paris during my college tour and visited some of the churches.Wonderful architectural style and unqiue.

churches in paris