Gargoyles of Notre Dame

When you think of Paris, you automatically think of the Eiffel Tower and the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Both of them have a beauty and atmosphere all of their own. Combined with the other architectural and cultural landmarks and designs that can be found in the “City of Lights”, they make Paris…well, Paris!

Purchase this Gallery Wrapped Canvas Print >

When you come in sight of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, your eyes are almost instantly drawn up to the roof with its 5000 imposing gargoyles and other architectural wonders. Both scary, because of their generally grotesque features and fascinating, the gargoyles’ presence on such a noble Cathedral seem at first to be a little “out of place”. When you learn, however, that the gargoyles actually have a functional use, it becomes clear why they were placed on the Cathedral and other buildings in France and Europe.

Most gargoyle figurines are actually openings to gutters or water spouts that are used to drain water away from the roof and sides of buildings. When a statue with the “traditional” gargoyle features does not conduct water, it is technically called a “grotesque” or a “chimera.” However, it is not uncommon to see any type of statue that resembles a gargoyle referred to as a gargoyle.

When you consider the beauty of the Cathedral of Notre Dame as well as other buildings, you can understand why it would be important for the water to be diverted so that it would not flow straight down. Most of the diverted water flows out of the gargoyle’s open mouth. Sometimes though, the water will come out of the back of the gargoyle’s body. This type of gargoyle, graphically referred to as a “defecating gargoyle,” is usually less visible than a traditional open-mouthed gargoyle. They can be found, however, if one knows where to look or looks closely enough.

But this is Paris after all. And, where else but in Paris will you see gargoyles, framed by a sea of blue rooftops?