The name Waltham derives from weald or wald “forest” and ham “homestead” or “enclosure”. The name of the ancient parish as a whole is Waltham Holy Cross, but the use of the name Waltham Abbey for the town seems to have originated in the 16th century. Waltham Abbey is one of those towns whose history is interwoven with that of its most important building, the Abbey itself. The riverside site of the town together with the well drained gravel terrain attracted early settlers. There are traces of prehistoric and Roman settlement in the town. Ermine Street lies only 5 km west and the causeway across the River Lea from Waltham Cross in Hertfordshire may be a Roman construction. Radiocarbon dating places a church and one grave from the 7th century.
Père Lachaise Cemetery is the largest cemetery in the city of Paris, France (110 acres), though there are larger cemeteries in the city's suburbs. One thing you very quickly get to know is that Père Lachaise is built on a hill. Both the entrance shown above (designed by Etienne-Hippolyte Godde) and the goulish subway stop to the right are at the bottom of the hill, requiring you to go up the hill to view the graves. A much better idea is to get off the subway at Gambetta, at the top of the hill. Also, they are usually out of maps at the cemetery and you will be utterly lost without one (you may also find it difficult to find your way out). Instead, either bring a map or buy some flowers at one of the local florists and ask for a map. An even better idea is to spend $2.99 on the app, Père Lachaise for your IPhone or IPad, a wonderful app that helps you pinpoint a specific grave or all the graves in your general location along with a small explanation of who the person is.
I had a few photos from Rouen that did not fit elsewhere and I thought I would include them in a separate post. First there is this incredible clock that stretches across the main street of the central zone. The Gros-Horloge or Great Clock cannot be dissociated from the surrounding buildings, since their history is so intimately linked.
Since its construction in the late 14th century, the Gothic belfry has housed the town's bells and clock, the latter being a simple mechanism meant to sound the bells on the hour, half-hour and quarter-hour.
In 1409, a clock face was installed on the archway over a gate in the ancient Roman walls. The current archway and clock faces (one on each side), were rebuilt between 1527-1529. On the two Renaissance clock faces, a single hand indicates the hour. Under the number VI, a divinity associated with the day of the week appears at noon on a chariot. Above the clock face, a globe indicates the phase of the moon (in our picture we have a full moon). Many depictions of sheep show the importance of the wool trade in Rouen and the Paschal Lamb, which has been part of Rouen's coat of arms since the 14th century, is represented on the underside of the arch.
Joan of Arc occupies a central role in Rouen and in the hundred years war. Above is her signature (signed Johanne) taken from one of her three remaining letters. The story of Joan of Arc is not easy because it involves the hundred years war which is a book by itself. In a very simplified version, Joan of Arc is a French heroine against the British, and was executed by burning at the stake by the British in Rouen.
Proposed by Louis XIV in 1670 as a home for “invalids” – disabled and impoverished war veterans, Les Invalides was designed by Libéral Bruant and completed in 1676. Shortly after the veterans' chapel was completed, Louis XIV commissioned Mansart to construct a separate private royal chapel referred to as the Église du Dôme from its most striking feature. Inspired by St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, the original for all Baroque domes, it is one of the triumphs of French Baroque architecture.
The dome itself is 107 meters high (351 ft) making it one of the tallest monuments in Paris, and was centrally placed in order to dominate the court of honor – one of 15 courtyards at the complex, designed for military parades. The inside of the dome was painted by Charles de La Fosse, disciple of 18th century well-known French painter, Charles Le Brun.
The doors seen you see to the right are covered in gold leaf, 25 feet tall, weigh almost 3 tons and have several symbols on them. The top round monogram is Louis XIV with two crossed “L's”. The two round monograms framing the fleur de lis of France in the middle are for Saint Louis, King Louis IX. The square section between is topped with two trophy helmets, the sun with a human face for Louis XIV (he believed he was unique and radiant like the sun) and finally the coat of arms for the kings of France, three golden fleur de lis on a sea of blue.
The Church of St. Ouen is the fourth church built on this site, the earliest built in 558 by Clotaire II, then king of France. The current Gothic church was begun in 1318 and completed in 1549. Saint Ouen was born in 609 and appointed bishop of Roen in 641 by Clovis II, he died in 683. The cathedral is famous for both its architecture and its large, unaltered Cavaillé–Coll organ, which Charles-Marie Widor described as “a Michelangelo of an organ”. Built on a similar scale to nearby Rouen Cathedral, it is, along with church of Saint Maclou, one of the principal Gothic monuments of Rouen. The church is currently empty, so we had unfettered access to the cathedral.
The Benedictine Abbaye St-Ouen was founded in the 7th century, but the present church is mostly late Gothic. The nave of the abbey church dates from the 15th century, its choir from the 14th (with 18th-century railings), and its stained glass from the 14th to the 16th centuries.
Gargoyles, sometimes called grotesques, are thought to date back to the 12th century. You will find them all over Europe on Gothic buildings as a means of directing water away from the building – water spouts. During the Middle Ages gargoyles became the popular form of these water spouts as I have shown in my previous post on Notre Dame Paris. The ones shown above are apparently “just for fun” and have at least three explanations. The stone masons were bored and looking for things to do, they are there to ward off evil and/or they were set on the churches to encourage pagans (who often believed in animal gods) to join the church. Gargoyles were used as a representation of evil. It is also thought that they were used to scare people into coming to church, reminding them that the end of days is near. It is thought that their presence symbolically assured congregants that evil is kept outside of the church’s walls.
The church displays a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic styles. The vaults of the apse were built in 1491, the chancel in 1537, the gallery in 1545 and the vaults of the nave and the transept were finished in 1580. The portal was built in 1610 and the bell tower in 1624. These front steps were featured in “Midnight in Paris” as the place where Owen Wilson was picked up by a car.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the church of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont enjoyed great prestige. It was the scene of great processions where the shrine of Sainte-Genevieve went to Notre Dame and subsequently returned to his church. It also housed the remains of Pierre Perrault, the father of the author of Tales, the painter Eustache Le Sueur and Blaise Pascal. Those of Racine and Isaac de Sacy Lemaistre were also transferred in 1711 from Port-Royal in Saint-Etienne.
I thought we would visit Notre Dame today, since it was good weather and we felt like an adventure. The cathedral is located on the east end of the Île de la Cité, one of two remaining islands in the Seine and home to the first inhabitants of Paris, the Celtic tribe Parisii.
I personally think the east side of Notre Dame shown above is more picturesque than the western facade shown to the right, primarily because you can see the “flying buttresses” that were added when cracks began showing in the fairly thin gothic walls. However, the western facade is packed with statues and carvings, most of which have religious meanings. Built in an age of illiteracy, the cathedral retells the stories of the Bible in its portals, paintings, and stained glass.