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travels: paris, notre dame’s bells

July 11, 2015

According to Wikipedia, “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. This bell is always rung first, at least 5 seconds before the rest. Until recently, there were four additional 19th-century bells on wheels in the north tower, which were swing chimed. These bells were meant to replace nine which were removed from the cathedral during the Revolution and were rung for various services and festivals. The bells were once rung by hand before electric motors allowed them to be rung without manual labor. When it was discovered that the size of the bells could cause the entire building to vibrate, threatening its structural integrity, they were taken out of use. The bells also had external hammers for tune playing from a small clavier.”IMG_5716

“On the night of 24 August 1944 as the Île de la Cité was taken by an advance column of French and Allied armoured troops and elements of the Resistance, it was the tolling of the Emmanuel that announced to the city that its liberation was under way.”

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“In early 2012, as part of a €2 million project, the four old bells in the north tower were deemed unsatisfactory and removed. The plan originally was to melt them down and recast new bells from the material. However, a legal challenge resulted in the bells being saved in extremis at the foundry.[11] As of early 2013, they are still merely set aside until their fate is decided. 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),[12] are designed to replicate the quality and tone of the cathedral’s original bells.”

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