A devastating fire broke out in Paris on April 15th 2019 and destroyed much of Notre Dame de Paris’ wood-timbered roof and spire (Figure 1). The fire was finally put out by over 500 fire fighters in the small hours of April 16th. Obviously, it was a disaster to human civilization, since “every surface, every stone of this venerable pile, is a page of the history not only of the country, but of science and of art” according to Victor Hugo (Murphy, 2019).
Figure 1. News coverage on the Notre-Dame Fire
Although two thirds of the gothic cathedral’s roof and spire were damaged, fortunately the main structure survived, including one rose window made of stained glass mosaic and the checkerboard pattern mosaic floor (Murphy, 2019). Supported by the supreme durability and visual effect of mosaic, both the mosaic glass window and the mosaic floor once added brilliance to Notre Dame de Paris’ splendor (Figure 2&3).
Figure 2. Checkerboard pattern mosaic floor in Notre Dame de Paris (Source)
Figure 3. Rose window made of glass mosaic in Notre Dame de Paris (Source)
In ancient Egypt, floor with a black and white checkerboard pattern had existed in temples. Rather than simply decorative, the checkered mosaic floor actually has profound esoteric significance (Figure 4). Nowadays, it is one of the most recognizable symbols of Freemasonry, a mysterious fraternal organization originated in the UK since the 18th century (Naudon, 2005). Notre Dame de Paris was constructed by the Knights Templar, spiritual ancestors of the Freemasons (Naudon, 2005). The checkered mosaic floor in the cathedral is a symbol associated with them, which represents the dualism of life, namely good and evil.
Figure 4. Esoteric tracing board of the Freemasons (Source)
One of the four rose windows in the main shrine has survived as well. The huge window was built in the 13th century and later restored in the 18th century. Patterns on the window depict that Jesus Christ is holding a blessing ceremony. During primary construction of Notre Dame de Paris, large pieces of transparent glass could not be produced due to technical restrictions, so only variegated glass particles were available. Inspired by mosaic paintings in the oriental Byzantine Empire, French craftsmen collaged and inlayed variegated glass participles into patterns of religious stories, which further formed stained glass (Figure 5). The elaborately inlayed glass particles reflect colorful lights into each corner of the main shrine and create heavenly ambience.
Figure 5. Justinian Mosaic, San Vitale(Source)
The restoration project of Notre Dame Paris is already in progress and expected to complete within five years. We could hardly see the interior of the cathedral at a close range during the restoration, but we still can appreciate gorgeous mosaic art in other places, such as the Church of Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg, Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in New Orleans, and Casa Batllo in Barcelona (Figure 6 & 7 & 8). Along with Notre Dame de Paris, all these buildings are great representatives of mosaic art with remarkable functional and aesthetic value.
Figure 6. Church of Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg (Source)
Figure 7. Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis in New Orleans (Source)
Figure 8. Casa Batllo, Barcelona (Source)
If you want to see the elegant, elaborate, and durable mosaic art every day, you can even decorate your own house with customized mosaic patterns. We are specialized in getting beautiful mosaic into the real-life home context. We are sincerely looking forward to working closely with you to transform your indoor space into a palace of art (Figure 9 & 10)
Murphy, J. 2019. “France agonizes over the fire that devastated Notre Dame”. Economist. 11 April 2019. Retrieved:
Naudon, P. 2005. The Secret History of Freemasonry: Its Origins and Connection to the Knights Templar. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.