"Here is my secret. It is very simple: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.."- Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Posts tagged “history

Notre Dame de Paris

If you visit Paris, one of the most impressive attractions you could see is the famous Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris, which is not only a religious destination but also a place of great art and unequaled history.

Notre-Dame de Paris (French for “Our Lady of Paris”), also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a historic Catholic cathedral located on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris, France. Being considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture, the Cathedral is among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The beauty of its sculptures and quality of its stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture.

The cathedral’s treasury is well known for its reliquary which houses some of Catholicism’s most important relics including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.

The Notre-Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress (arched exterior supports). The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave but after the construction started to show signs of stress fractures as the walls pushed outward, the cathedral’s architects built supports around the outside walls, and later further additions.ND2

A multitude of individually crafted statues was placed around the outside to serve as column supports and water spouts. Among these are the famous gargoyles, designed for water run-off, and chimeras, statues that were originally colored as was most of the exterior.

The cathedral was essentially complete by 1345. The cathedral has a narrow climb of 387 steps at the top of several spiral staircases; along the climb it is possible to view its most famous bell and its gargoyles in close quarters, as well as having a spectacular view across Paris when reaching the top.


In 1160, because the church in Paris had become an attraction for the kings of Europe, Bishop Maurice de Sully decided that the previous Paris cathedral, Saint-Étienne, which had been founded in the 4th century, was unworthy of its role. To begin the construction of the new Cathedral, the bishop had several houses demolished and had a new road built in order to transport materials for the rest of the cathedral. Construction began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII. The construction of the choir took from 1163 until around 1177 and the new High Altar was consecrated in 1182 (it was normal practice for the eastern end of a new church to be completed first, so that a temporary wall could be erected at the west of the choir, allowing the chapter to use it without interruption while the rest of the building slowly took shape). Between 1210 and 1220, the fourth architect oversaw the construction of the level with the rose window and the great halls beneath the towers.


The Cathedral has been damaged many times: in 1548 by rioting Huguenots, in 1793 during the French Revolution and the worst during the Second World War. Several of the stained glass windows on the lower tier were hit by stray bullets. These were replaced after the war with new modern geometrical pattern stained glass, not the old scenes of the Bible.The cathedral has been even used at some point as a warehouse for food storage.

In 1991, a major program of maintenance and restoration was initiated, which has included the cleaning and restoration of old sculptures. The lighting was upgraded to LED lighting.

Though several organs were installed in the cathedral over time, the earliest ones were inadequate for the building. The organ used now has 7,374 pipes, with ca 900 classified as historical. It has 110 real stops, five 56-key manuals, and a 32-key pedal board. The position of titular organist (“head” or “chief” organist) at Notre-Dame is considered one of the most prestigious organist posts in France. It was reminiscent of the 18th-century practice of the cathedral having four titular organists, each one playing for three months of the year.

The cathedral has 10 bells. The largest, Emmanuel, original to 1681, is located in the south tower and weighs just over 13 tons and is tolled to mark the hours of the day and for various occasions and services. In early 2012, the four old bells in the north tower were deemed unsatisfactory and removed. A set of 8 new bells was cast by the same foundry in Normandy that had cast the four in 1856. At the same time, a much larger bell called Marie was cast in the Netherlands—it now hangs with Emmanuel in the south tower. The 9 new bells, which were delivered to the cathedral at the same time (31 January 2013), are designed to replicate the quality and tone of the cathedral’s original bells.

Significant events:

1185: Heraclius of Caesarea calls for the Third Crusade from the still-incomplete cathedral.
1239: The Crown of Thorns is placed in the cathedral by St. Louis during the construction of the Sainte-Chapelle.
1302: Philip the Fair opens the first States-General.
16 December 1431: Henry VI of England is crowned King of France.
1450: Wolves of Paris are trapped and killed on the parvis of the cathedral.
7 November 1455: Isabelle Romée, the mother of Joan of Arc, petitions a papal delegation to overturn her daughter’s conviction for heresy.
1 January 1537: James V of Scotland is married to Madeleine of France
24 April 1558: Mary, Queen of Scots is married to the Dauphin Francis (later Francis II of France), son of Henry II of France.
18 August 1572: Henry of Navarre (later Henry IV of France) marries Margaret of Valois. The marriage takes place not in the cathedral but on the parvis of the cathedral, as Henry IV is Protestant.
10 September 1573: The Cathedral was the site of a vow made by Henry of Valois following the interregnum of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that he would both respect traditional liberties and the recently passed religious freedom law.
10 November 1793: the Festival of Reason.
2 December 1804: the coronation ceremony of Napoleon I and his wife Joséphine, with Pope Pius VII officiating.
1831: The novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame was published by French author Victor Hugo.
18 April 1909: Joan of Arc is beatified.
16 May 1920: Joan of Arc is canonized.
1900: Louis Vierne is appointed organist of Notre-Dame de Paris after a heavy competition (with judges including Charles-Marie Widor) against the 500 most talented organ players of the era. On the 2nd of June 1937 Louis Vierne dies at the cathedral organ (as was his lifelong wish) near the end of his 1750th concert.
26 August 1944: The Te Deum Mass takes place in the cathedral to celebrate the liberation of Paris. (According to some accounts the Mass was interrupted by sniper fire from both the internal and external galleries.)
12 November 1970: The Requiem Mass of General Charles de Gaulle is held.
6 June 1971: Philippe Petit surreptitiously strings a wire between the two towers of Notre-Dame and tight-rope walks across it. Petit later performed a similar act between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.
31 May 1980: After the Magnificat of this day, Pope John Paul II celebrates Mass on the parvis of the cathedral.
January 1996: The Requiem Mass of François Mitterrand is held.
12 December 2012: The Notre-Dame Cathedral begins a year-long celebration of the 850th anniversary of the laying of the first building block for the cathedral.


The Cathedral is open every day of the year: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 6:45 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 8 am to 7:15 pm. The access to the cathedral is open and free.

The cathedral reception is open: Monday to Friday from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Adela Galasiu, 2015
Source: Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Wikipedia, google.
Photos: Adela Galasiu, 2015

Destination Paradise: Romania

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

” Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea. Romania shares a border with Hungary and Serbia to the west, Ukraine and Moldova to the northeast and east, and Bulgaria to the south.

Romania is the ninth largest country of the European Union by area, and has the seventh largest populationof the European Union with aprox. 19  million peopleIts capital and largest city is Bucharest, the sixth largest city in the EU with about two million people.

With a surface area of 238,391 square kilometres (92,043 sq mi), Romania is the largest country in southeastern Europe and the twelfth-largestin Europe. It lies between latitudes 43° and 49° N, and longitudes 20° and 30° E.

Romania’s terrain is distributed roughly equally between mountainous, hilly and lowland territories. The Carpathian Mountains dominate the centre of Romania, with 14 mountain ranges reaching above 2,000 m/6,600 ft, and the highest point at Moldoveanu Peak (2,544 m/8,346 ft).These are surrounded by the Moldavian and Transylvanian plateaus and Pannonian and Wallachian plains. Romania’s geographical diversity has led to an accompanying diversity of flora and fauna.

A large part of Romania’s border with Serbia and Bulgaria is formed by the Danube. The Prut River, one of its major tributaries, forms the border with the Republic of Moldova. The Danube flows into the Black Sea within Romania’s territory forming the Danube Delta, the second largest and best preserved delta in Europe, and also a biosphere reserve and a biodiversity World Heritage Site. Other major rivers are the Siret(596 km), the Olt (614 km), the Prut (742 km), the Someș (388 km), and the Mureș (761 km).

Lakes and lake complexes have a low share throughout Romania, occupying only 1.1% of total land area. The largest lake complex in size isRazelm-Sinoe (731 km²), located on the Black Sea seasideGlacial lakes exist in the Făgăraș Mountains, a result of quaternary glaciation, of which the largest are: Lake Avrig (14,700 m²), Bâlea Lake (46,500 m²), Capra Lake (18,000 m²), etc. Other notable lakes are Lake Sfânta Ana, the only volcanic lake in Romania, and Red Lake, a natural dam lake, both situated in Harghita County.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Marie of Romania

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

“Marie of Romania (Marie Alexandra Victoria, previously Princess Marie of Edinburgh; 29 October 1875 – 18 July 1938) was Queen consort of Romania from 1914 to 1927, as the wife of Ferdinand of Romania.

She was born on 29 October 1875 at Eastwell Park in Kent, the eldest daughter of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and Grand Duchess Maria Alexandrovna of Russia. Her father was the second-eldest son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. Her mother was the only surviving daughter of Alexander II of Russia and Maria Alexandrovna of Hesse. She was baptised in the Private Chapel of Windsor Castle on 15 December 1875 and her godparents were the Empress and Tsarevitch of Russia (her maternal grandmother and uncle), the Duchess of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (her paternal grandaunt), the Princess of Wales (her paternal aunt) and the Duke of Connaught (her paternal uncle). As her father was in the Royal Navy, she spent much of her early childhood abroad, particularly in Malta.

In her youth, Princess Marie was considered a suitable match for marriage to the Royalty of Europe. Her first cousin, Prince George of Wales, later King George V of the United Kingdom, fell in love with her and proposed marriage. Marie’s father and George’s father approved of the marriage, but their mothers did not. Marie’s mother did not like the British Royal family and George’s mother did not like Germans so the idea of a marriage was mixed. Before Marie could find someone else suitable to marry, her mother found Ferdinand of Romania. He was the German-raised nephew of the King of Romania (and a distant cousin of the rulers of Prussia).

Princess Marie married Prince Ferdinand of Romania, nephew of King Carol I of Romania in Sigmaringen, Germany, on 10 January 1893. The bride was 17 years old and the groom was 10 years her senior. (Marie’s father did not become Duke of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha until a few months later.) The marriage, which produced three daughters and three sons, was not a happy one.Her correspondence with her longtime secret confidante, the American dancer Loie Fuller, revealed “the distaste, which grew to revulsion” that Marie felt for her husband.

The couple’s two youngest children, Ileana and Mircea, were born after Marie met her long-time lover, Barbu Ştirbey. Historians generally agree that Ştirbey was the father of Prince Mircea, who had brown eyes like Ştirbey, unlike Marie and Ferdinand. The paternity of Ileana is uncertain, as is the paternity of Marie’s second daughter, Maria (known as Mignon), the future Queen of Yugoslavia.Ferdinand’s paternity of the three other children, Carol, Nicholas and Elisabeth, has not been disputed.

In 1897, while still Crown Princess, Marie began a romantic liaison with Lieutenant Zizi Cantacuzene. The affair and subsequent scandal became widely known and was quickly terminated by King Carol I. However by autumn 1897, during the height of the scandal, Marie became pregnant. After fleeing to her mother in Coburg, Marie apparently gave birth to a child who has disappeared from history.It has been suggested that the child was either stillborn or quickly placed in an orphanage. Whatever the truth, ‘the story of this mysterious child of Marie of Romania was one secret “she took to the grave.”

In 1899 Marie, pregnant with Mignon, pleaded with King Carol I to allow her to give birth in Coburg, where her father was Duke. Upon the king’s refusal of this request, Marie declared ‘right to his face’ that the child she was carrying was in fact Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia‘s. The horrified King relented and Marie gave birth to her daughter, also called Marie but always known as Mignon, in the peaceful surroundings of Coburg. Following this, whether in earnest or merely to deflect criticism from the dynasty, Crown Prince Ferdinand officially recognised the child as his.

Marie’s fourth child and second son, Prince Nicolas, was born in August 1903. The appearance of Pauline Astor, the sister of Marie’s close friend and confidant Waldorf Astor, along with an Astor family doctor during the birth fanned speculation that the father of Prince Nicolas was in fact Astor and not Crown Prince Ferdinand. As with Mignon, Ferdinand accepted the child as his own and as he grew up Nicolas came to resemble his Hohenzollern relatives rather than the Astors.

In 1914, Carol I died and Ferdinand ascended the throne of Romania. Crown Princess Marie then became styledHer Majesty The Queen of Romania. Due to World War I, they were not crowned as King and Queen until 1922.

Marie had become a Romanian patriot, and her influence in the country was large. A.L. Easterman writes that King Ferdinand was “a quiet, easy-going man, of no significant character… It was not he, but Marie who ruled in Romania.” He credits Marie’s sympathies for the Allies as being “the major influence in bringing her country to their side” in the war.

During the war, she volunteered as a Red Cross nurse to help the sick and wounded and wrote a book titled My Country to raise funds for the Red Cross, but these were by no means her most notable contributions to the war effort. With the country half-overrun by the German Army, she and a group of military advisers devised the plan by which the Romanian Army, rather than retreating into Russia, would choose a triangle of the country in which to stand and fight; and through a letter to Loïe Fuller she set in motion the series of events that brought a timely American loan to Romania, providing the necessary funds to carry out the plan. (Fortuitously, the young woman from the US embassy who delivered the letter to Fuller was the former ward of Newton D. Baker, by this time serving as U.S. Secretary of War. Fuller and the young woman travelled from Paris to Washington, DC and secured an audience with Baker who, along with U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Carter Glass, arranged the loan).

After the war ended, the Great Powers decided to settle affairs at the Paris Peace Conference. The Romanian objective was to secure the Romanian-inhabited territories from the now-defunct Austria-Hungary and Russian Empire, thereby uniting all Romanian-speakers in a single state. Romanian diplomats at the peace conference sought to achieve recognition by the Allies of the Unions of BessarabiaBukovina, and Transylvania with Romania, proclaimed during 1918. With the Romanian delegation losing ground in the negotiations, Prime Minister Ionel Bratianu called upon the Queen to travel to France. Marie famously declared that “Romania needs a face, and I will be that face,” astutely calculating that the international press was growing tired of the endless negotiations and would be unable to resist the glamour of a Royal visit. The arrival of the so-called Soldier Queen was an international media sensation and she argued passionately that the Western powers should honour their debt to Romania (which had suffered a casualty rate proportionately far greater than Britain, France or the USA). Behind the scenes, she alternately charmed and bullied the Allied leaders into backing the Romanian cause. As a direct result of her charismatic intervention, Romania won back the initiative and successfully achieved all its pre-conference aims, eventually expanding its territory by 60%, gaining BessarabiaBukovinaTransylvania, as well as parts of the BanatCrişana and Maramureş.

Marie’s son, the Crown Prince Carol (later King Carol II of Romania), was never close to his father, Ferdinand—by the time Carol was an adult, their antagonism became an “open breach”—but there continued to be a “deep bond of affection and sympathy” between Carol and Marie. Their relationship, however, deteriorated. The initial conflict came over Carol’s objections to Marie’s relationship with Prince Ştirbey; the breach was exacerbated as Marie attempted to steer Carol toward a dynastic marriage rather than allow him to choose his own bride.During Carol’s exile in Paris, Loïe Fuller had befriended Carol and his mistress Magda Lupescu; they were unaware of Fuller’s connection to Marie. Fuller initially advocated to Marie on their behalf, but later schemed unsuccessfully with Marie to separate Carol from Lupescu. Eventually, when Carol became King and did not seek her counsel, the breach between mother and son became complete.

After the death of her husband in 1927, Queen Marie remained in Romania, writing books and her memoirs, The Story of My Life. She died in Peleş Castle on 18 July 1938, and was buried next to her husband in the Monastery of Curtea de Argeş. In accordance with her will, her heart was kept in a cloister at the Balchik Palace which she had built. In 1940, when Balchik and the rest of Southern Dobrudja were returned to Bulgaria in accordance with the Treaty of Craiova, Queen Marie’s heart was transferred to Bran Castle.

In 1968 Communist partisans defiled the marble sarcophagus in which the heart was preserved. Both silver coffers containing Queen’s heart were transferred to Bucharest and nowadays are in the custody of National Museum of Romanian History as well as Queen’s heart. The coffers are part of Romanian National Thesaurus and can be seen at National Museum of Romanian History. The decision of preserving Queen’s heart in a museum, even though not open to the public, continues to be a controversial subject.

Bran Castle had been her principal home for much of the early 20th century, and the artefacts with which she chose to surround herself (traditional furniture and tapestries, for example) can be seen by visitors today. Many of her other personal effects can be seen at the Maryhill Museum, formerly the home of Samuel Hill, an American railroad businessman with whom Queen Marie corresponded much of her life. The famous museum, which lies in Washington State (U.S.A.) on the north side of the Columbia River, displays much of Queen Marie’s regalia, furniture, and other possessions, including her crown.

She was the 1,007th Dame of the Royal Order of Queen Maria Luisa.” From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia