The impressive cathedral in Paris called Notre Dame de Paris is a celebrated Catholic edifice located along the Île de la Cité in Paris, France. The site is the cradle of the city being the religious center of Paris. This was a sacred ground for the Celts and the Romans had a temple of Jupiter built here. It was also the location for a 6th century basilica and the site of a Romanesque church before the Notre-Dame was built.
The Cathedral is also referred to as Notre Dame Cathedral or Notre Dame for short. The construction Cathédrale Notre Dame started in 1143 according to the architectural design of then Bishop Maurice de Sully, which was meant to show Paris’s status as the capital of the Kingdom France. It was completed in the14th century. It was the first cathedral ever built on a colossal scale; it became the archetype for forthcoming cathedrals in France, such as the cathedrals of Chartres, Amiens or Rheims, to name a few.
The prevailing architectural influences of the time are reflected in its gargoyles and stained glass windows. It is among the most recognizable religious edifices in the world with its magnificent French Gothic architecture, a departure from the earlier Romanesque influences.
Here are more facts you would like to know about Notre Dame:
- A most-visited attraction in Paris: It attracts over 14 million tourists. It is a massive structure that can accommodate more than 6,000 worshippers.
- The structural highlights: It has three impressive rose windows, a treasury and bell towers that can be ascended. To get to the top of the western frontage where the gargoyles are found, you have to scramble 400 steps spiral from the North Tower. The view of Paris from here is spectacular.
- The restoration of Notre Dame: It was badly damaged during the French Revolution. Extensive rehabilitations were done following the war by architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc between 1845 and 1864. He even made some controversial modifications, such as the addition of a spire. The cathedral had another restoration work done between 1991 and 2001 for the purpose of preserving the historic architecture.
- A monument of superb balance: In order to veer away being dull, Notre Dame has been constructed using a large number of small asymmetrical elements. One example is the use of slightly different forms of the three main doorways. Yet, all these are unnoticeable; the Cathedral projects balance and symmetry from a certain distance.
- The important Catholic artifacts: The cathedral has the “cathedra,” which is the official chair of the archbishop of Paris. In the trésor (treasury), there are valuable first-rate relics, such as the purported Ste-Couronne (Holy Crown or Crown of Thorns) placed on Jesus’ head before the crucifixion, one of the Holy Nails, and a part of the True Cross. The central choir is memorable with its engraved wooden stalls and the statues it contains – the Passion of the Christ.
- Notre Dame is the heart of Paris: The distance of every place in the metropolis is measured from the du Parvis Notre Dame. With its spacious square in the foreground, it is a popular backdrop for tourists taking a souvenir photo of the beautiful façade of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris. This is also the place where people gather after the sun sets to appreciate the cathedral or just to hang out. Across the street is a bronze star that benchmarks the precise location of Point Zéro des Routes de France.
- The best view of the cathedral: You can catch the best view from square Jean XXIII. This is a small at the back of the cathedral. The location gives you a perfect sight of the numerous elaborate flying buttresses surrounding the chancel and supporting its roof and walls.
- The bells in the garden: There are 10 bells. Some of them are added in 2013 in commemoration of the 850th anniversary of Notre Dame. Four of the original, less-tuneful bells were removed in 1856 bells, but were displayed in square Jean XXII for posterity. All the bells have names. The biggest and oldest is Emmanuel; it rings the hour, every hour and during special events and celebrations.
Though Notre dame isn’t the larges cathedral the world, it could be the most famous of them all. If you are in Paris, you shouldn’t miss it.