The Da Vinci Code, Paris

The Da Vinci code by Dan Brown was very popular when it was first released in 2004 and long after.However it was also widely criticised, especially by the Church as it questions the existance and indeed the origin of the Holy Grail.

Putting the subject matter and your opinions on this to one side, I have found this book to be a very interesting guide book to Paris and beyond for several reasons:

The Louvre is very popular with visitors all year round but I was living and working in Paris at the time when it came out and the number of visitors to this museum and to the underground shopping mall and museum entrance where the upside down pyramid can be found, was quite simply astonishing. Even if you don’t go inside the museum to see the Mona Lisa (Which is MUCH smaller than you would ever imagine), you can still marvel at the Louvre museum itself and the gardens around it.

I also revisited the beautiful Saint Sulpice church in Paris with this book and was rather amused to find this note in the church for visitors to read:

There were still many tourists taking pictures of the ‘rose line’.Including me. And yes I looked for the P and the S in the windows and imagined Silas breaking the line to look for the treasure beneath.

Shows you the power of the written word.

Angels and Demons, Rome

I enjoyed reading the Angels and Demons book of Dan Browns which I had read long before the famous Da Vinci Code came out. And I must say what a fantastic guide to Rome this is. Putting the story to one side, if you take the book around Rome, you get to see and appreciate a lot of the sights that a tourist might normally miss, or at least see them in a different light.

The imposing and eerily lit  Castel Sant’Angelo and St Peters Square is amazing in any situation, but after having read the novel, you can imagine and ‘see’ so much more. The secret passageway is more noticeable after reading the book and the act of Conclave comes to life in the Vatican and Sistine Chapel. Particularly down in the Catacombs!!

The book describes a path – a path of illumination with four points which has been set as a trap by the Illuminati. The Illuminati are a secret society who set the path as a means of inducting new members to the order. Four priests have been kidnapped and are to be killed at four sites around Rome. This leads Langdon to four places where each is associated with one of the primordial elements: ‘Earth’, ‘Air’, ‘Fire’, and ‘Water’.

I also enjoyed learning about the ambigrams – an art form that may be read as one or more words not only in its form as presented, but also from another viewpoint or orientation. I have used this in some typography work I have been involved with recently.

I admit I did the journey following the path to see the fountains and the churches and to trace in Langdon’s footsteps. I didn’t think I believed in all the hype but I admit I didn’t dare take it into the Vatican as a mark of respect just incase.