The Owl Dijon, Dijon, Burgundy, France
This is the Owl of Notre Dame de Dijon, the city’s symbol and unofficial talisman. The carving sits about six feet off the ground on an otherwise unremarkable corner of the church, and as the tradition goes, if you touch him with your left hand and make a wish, your wish will come true.
The original Gothic structure of Notre Dame dates to the 13th century, but the owl isn’t nearly so old. He was added—no one knows why or by whom—during construction of a more modern chapel (and by European church standards, “modern” means early 16th century) on the north wall. Here the narrow pedestrian street is called Rue de la Chouette, “Owl Street.”
Dijon is no out-of-the-way place, and the church is dead center, so you can imagine how many left hands have touched the carving over the course of more than three hundred years. His face, probably once well defined, now looks more like a melted wax candle of an owl.
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