Thursday, 21 May 2015

Notre Dame de Paris Gargoyles on the Galerie des Chimere.

Gargoyles are stone carvings found on Gothic buildings.  They were designed as waterspouts to direct rainwater way from the roof and sides of a building. A trough is cut in the back of the gargoyle and rainwater typically exits through the open mouth. Gargoyles usually depict an elongated animal.  Everything is elongated because the length of the gargoyle is important as to how far water is thrown from the wall.
The term gargoyle originates from the French gargouille, which in English literally means "throat" or "gullet"

Some of most fantastical and ornate gargoyles can be found on medieval churches.  The Church used them to portray messages to the common people. Since literacy was uncommon, images were the best way to convey ideas. Gargoyles were used as a representation of evil.  The most common representation of evil used by the Church were chimeras. Chimeras are creatures that are mixes of different types of animal body parts to create a new creature. Some of the more notable chimeras are griffins, centaurs, harpies, and mermaids. Chimeras often served as a warning to people who underestimated the devil.
Technically chimeras are not gargoyles, they are grotesques, as they did not act as rainspouts and served more as ornamentation and warnings, but are now they are synonymous with gargoyles.

The most famous examples of chimeras are located at Notre Dame de Paris on the Galerie des Chimere.  Visitors can climb to the upper parts of the façade and are able to gain access to the chimeras/ gargoyles on the Galerie des Chimère 

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