Notre Dame cathedral
Visit Notre Dame cathedral (Paris, France)
The Notre Dame de Paris is one of the iconic examples of architecture in France. One of the first Gothic cathedrals ever built, it lies on the east side of the Île de la Cité in Paris. Construction of the cathedral took almost 200 years, almost as long as the entire gothic period. Many consider it to be a shining example of the Gothic style.
It was in 1160 that the decision to build Notre Dame was made, shortly after the Paris church became the central church for all kings of Europe. Bishop Maurice de Sully deemed it crucial that a newer, grander cathedral be built, and the old church was demolished. Three years later, construction on Notre Dame began – even Pope Alexander III attended the ceremony where they laid the first cornerstone.
In architectural history, Notre Dame was one of the first buildings that made use of the flying buttress – these buttresses were arches that allowed the walls they supported to have large sections cut out of them for windows, by shouldering the weight these type of walls no longer could. Although the buttresses were not originally art of the building plan, they became necessary and are now a crucial part of the cathedral’s look.
As a building that has been around for the majority of the millennium, Notre Dame experienced quite a bit of vandalism. In the 1500’s, when the Huguenots - a reformist offshoot of the church - gained influence, they destroyed many of the windows of the cathedral that they deemed idolatrous. In the 1600’s, the a modernization movement also forced major alterations. And during the 1700’s, many of the cathedrals treasures were destroyed during the French Revolution.
Excavations over the years have uncovered that the area surrounding and lying beneath the cathedral holds a great deal of history – hidden rooms and cellars, furnaces, and other secrets. The last century has seen active attempts to restore and maintain the cathedral, most recently, a program started in 1991 to clean and revitalize the cathedral. Expected to take 10 years, the program was not completed until 2005.
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There was no real Hunchback of Notre Dame, however, Victor Hugo’s book renewed interest in the cathedral and saved it from being torn down – in fact, it inspired the campaign to raise money to restore the cathedral in 1845.
Note: the Towers of the cathedral are a listed National Monument.
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Paris, Paris, Paris, 75000 || GPS: latitude 48.853056, longitude 2.349722
Map of Notre Dame cathedral & places nearby
Highlights close by
The Louvre 1km
Paris Opera 2km
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Notre Dame cathedral, France
- Seine Banks, Paris - heritage site
- Hotel de Ville (town hall) - Paris
- Sainte-Chapelle - national monument
- Conciergerie - national monument
- Paris tour St Jacques (monuments on French pilgrim routes) - heritage site
- Maison d'Ourscamp (Paris) - religious monument
- Pont-Neuf - Paris
- Pantheon - national monument
- Centre de la mer et des eaux - aquarium
- Saint-Eustache - Paris