Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral (Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris) is a gothic cathedral in Paris’s fourth arrondissement.

Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris history

Original construction began on the famous cathedral in 1163, with the first stone supposedly laid in the presence of Pope Alexander III. At this time, it was the project of the bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully who built it as a religious focal point in the city dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the original “Lady of Paris” or “Notre Dame de Paris”.

Four different architects worked on the cathedral throughout its construction period. It was the fourth architect that oversaw the completion of the west facade and its rose window in 1225. By 1250 the western towers and North Rose Window were completed and the remaining elements were put in place by 1345.

Notre Dame Cathedral has since undergone numerous building and refurbishment campaigns, with several religious, political and royal leaders determined to leave their mark on this impressive building. It was also necessary to rebuild parts of it following the French Revolution, when much of Notre Dame and its religious artifacts were destroyed during the French Revolution.

Notre-Dame, returned to Catholic worship two years earlier, is the theatre of the Sacrament of Napoleon I as Emperor of the French by Pope Pius VII. Between Mass and Coronation, the ceremony lasts more than five hours and is immortalized in one of the most famous paintings of the Louvre: “Le Sacre de Napoléon” by Jacques-Louis David.

The famous author, Victor Hugo, in love with the monument, decided to honor the noble cathedral in his book The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris today

Notre Dame Cathedral is still an operating church, but visitors are also welcome to tour the building and appreciate both its beauty and sheer size. Some of the highlights at Notre Dame include its stained glass windows, gothic architecture and many sculptures.

Free tours are conducted throughout the year, Monday to Friday at 2 and 3pm (except the first Friday of the month and every Friday during Lent) as well as Saturdays and Sundays at 2:30pm.

The nearby tower outside the cathedral is also worth a visit. Dating back to the 13th century, it houses the 17th Century Emmanuel Bell as well as Viollet-le-Duc’s 19th century chimera and gargoyles. Those feeling particularly fit can climb its 387 steps for magnificent views.

Also recommended is the archeological crypt just to the west of Notre Dame Cathedral and located under the Parvis. This underground crypt was built to protect ancient ruins found in 1965 and can be accessed via a staircase opposite Notre Dame Cathedral, near the Police Headquarters.

Finally, Notre Dame’s Treasury houses some of the relics of the Passion of Christ including the famous Crown of Thorns.

Getting to Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

You will find the Notre Dame in Paris fourth district. Located in the City Island on the Seine river, you can easily get by walking from the Marais neighborhood. Nevertheless, if you would rather take the metro, travel via metro line 4 and get out at the Saint Michel metro station or Cité metro station.

If you get down at Saint Michel metro station, go by the Seine river and turn to your right. You will instantly see the Notre Dame from afar. The walk from this station is very pleasant. If you get down at Cité metro station, you will be closer and will only have to walk a few streets to reach the cathedral.

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