Important facts about Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris is a majestic Catholic church on the island of Cité in the center of Paris. It is an outstanding monument of architecture praised in the art and is one of the most famous religious buildings in the world. Every year 13-14 million tourists come to Notre-Dame de Paris to see the Gothic silhouette, decorated with picturesque stained-glass windows and ghastly gargoyles, staring upwards. Notre Dame de Paris is the geographical center not only of Paris, but also of the whole country. Here is the so-called “kilometer zero” from which all distances in France are counted.

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Video: Notre Dame de Paris

History of the construction of the cathedral

Temples have been located in this place since time immemorial, back in Roman times there was a temple here dedicated to Jupiter. The Merovingians, who ruled Gaul between 500 and 571, built St. Etienne’s Cathedral here.

Notre Dame de Paris was founded in 1163 by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris, with the cornerstone laid by Pope Alexander III. Its erection lasted until 1345, that is, it took almost two centuries. During this time, the project was managed by dozens of architects, which did not prevent them from erecting a beautiful and organic ensemble. According to historical data, there were several other churches, both Christian and pagan, on the same site.

Notre Dame de Paris was built by many architects, but Pierre de Montreuil and Jean de Chelle are considered to be the main contributors. The building was laid during the reign of Louis VII. That’s when the Gothic style became popular in architecture, which was used by the architects. This style was successfully blended with the Romanesque style from Normandy tradition, giving the cathedral a unique look.

Painting of the Coronation of Napoleon I (December 2, 1804) by Jacques-Louis David in 1807. East facade of the cathedral, 1860s

The history of France and Notre Dame cannot be separated, for it was here that knights prayed for the Crusades, Napoleon’s coronation, the celebration of victory over Hitler’s troops and many other events took place.

North Dam is shrouded in an atmosphere of mysticism and dark romance The west facade of Notre Dame de Paris

Notre Dame de Paris has suffered greatly from inept reconstructions during the events of the late eighteenth century, and later from popular neglect. Thus, the French Revolution almost deprived the world of this unique monument of architecture; they even wanted to burn it. Many sculptures were broken or beheaded, stained-glass windows destroyed, precious utensils plundered. The building was declared a Temple of the Mind, then a center of the Cult of the Supreme Being, and later was simply turned into a food warehouse. Victor Hugo’s novel Notre Dame de Paris, which took center stage in the story of the hunchback’s love for the beautiful gypsy girl, saved the architectural ensemble from total destruction. The publication of the work not only made the writer famous, but also drew the attention of the general public to the exceptional historical and aesthetic value of the ancient building.

This is where the “Kilometer Zero” is located, the point of reference of all distances in France.

It was decided to reconstruct Notre Dame according to all the rules of ancient technology. Viollet-le-Duca successfully coped with such a difficult task, as the architect had knowledge of the methods of construction of the ancient masters who worked on the construction of the temple. The restoration of Notre Dame de Paris lasted more than a quarter of a century. During this time the facades and interior decoration were restored, the gallery of sculptures ruined by the revolutionaries and part of the gargoyles were reconstructed, and all the surviving infernal “guards” were returned to their rightful place.

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In addition, a spire more than 95 meters high was built and installed on the roof. In subsequent years, the Parisians were extremely reverent about their shrine. It is noteworthy that the temple practically has not suffered in the period of the two World Wars. At the end of the XX century, another restoration has been initiated, which has allowed the building to be completely cleared of urban dust and to return the sandstone, of which the facade was made, to its original golden hue.

View of Notre Dame de Paris through the archway

Video: Consequences of the cathedral fire

Facade and gargoyles

The most popular attribute of the exterior decoration of Notre Dame de Paris remains the stone demonic creatures. Gargoyles are present here in large numbers and are intended not only for decoration, but also to divert water from the many drains on the roof. The fact is that the unusually complex construction of the roof contributes to the accumulation of moisture due to precipitation, because it can not run off as freely as from conventional houses. This can lead to mold, damping and destruction of stone, so high-quality gutters just need any Gothic cathedral.

Traditionally, unattractive outlets pipes masked figures of gargoyles, chimeras, dragons, less often – people or real animals. Many see hidden meanings in these demonic images, so there is great scope for imagination. It is noteworthy that there were no stone demons on the cathedral when it was built; they were installed at the suggestion of the restorer Viollet-le-Duc, who used this medieval tradition.

Bas-relief of the cathedral of the Virgin Mary with the Child and the Angels The gargoyles of Notre Dame Notre Dame Cathedral at sunset

The main facade is decorated with stone statues and has three portals. The main one is in the middle; its arches are supported by seven statues on each side, and the main decoration is a relief scene of the Last Judgement. The right portal is dedicated to St. Anne, depicting the Virgin Mary with the Child, and the left one to the Mother of God, with the signs of the zodiac and a depiction of the coronation of the Virgin Mary. The huge doors are decorated with wrought-iron relief images.

The already mentioned spire on the roof replaced the one that was dismantled at the end of the XVIII century. The structure is decorated with four groups of apostles, as well as animals corresponding to the evangelists. All the statues face the French capital, with the exception of St. Thomas, the patron saint of architects, who seems to be admiring the spire.

Almost all of the stained-glass windows are quite modern, made during the restoration of the temple in the 19th century. Only in the central rose of the winds some medieval parts have been preserved. The pattern of this large-scale construction (9.5 meters in diameter) of colored glass depicts Mary, as well as rural works, signs of the Zodiac, human virtues and sins. The northern and southern facades are equipped with the largest roses that exist in Europe. Each of them is about 13 meters in diameter.

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The facade of Notre Dame, including three portals: Our Lady, the Last Judgement, and St. Anne, as well as the Gallery of the Kings above

Interior decoration of Notre Dame de Paris

The structure in longitudinal section is a cross, in the center of which there is a complex of sculptural images of various Gospel scenes. Interestingly, there are no internal supporting walls here; their function is performed by multifaceted columns. A large number of artistic carvings are flooded with unearthly light, which is painted in different colors, passing through the glasses of several roses. On the right side of Notre Dame, tourists can admire the remarkable sculptures, paintings and other works of art that are traditionally presented to Our Lady every year on the first of May. The majestic central chandelier was designed by Viollet-le-Duc, and after the reconstruction it replaced the panikal, melted down during the French Revolution.

Interior of Notre Dame The stained-glass window of Notre Dame. Because of the abundance of biblical scenes in the Middle Ages, the cathedral was called the “Bible for the unread.”

Between the portal and the higher tier is the Gallery of Kings, where sculptures of Old Testament rulers are on display. Revolutionaries ruthlessly destroyed the original statues, so they were made anew. At the end of the XX century, fragments of individual sculptures were found under one of the Parisian houses. It turned out that the owner had bought them back in troubled times to bury them with honors, and later built his dwelling on the spot.

It is impossible not to mention the majestic organ installed in the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Paris. It was equipped as early as when the temple was built, and has been rebuilt and reconstructed many times. Today this organ is the largest in France by number of registers and the second largest by number of pipes, some of which are preserved from the Middle Ages.

The organ in Notre Dame de Paris

South Bell Tower

If you want to enjoy Parisian panoramas as beautiful as the ones from the Eiffel Tower it is absolutely worth climbing up the South Tower of Notre-Dame de Paris. Here leads a spiral staircase of 387 steps, climbing up which you will see the main bell of the cathedral, Emmanuelle, and be able to consider the gargoyles in close proximity. It is believed that they look so closely to the west because they are waiting for the sun to set, after which they come to life each night.

Museum and Treasury

The cathedral has a museum where every visitor can learn about the history of the temple in all its details, and listen to many famous and little-known stories related to the place. Various exhibits that relate directly to the centuries-old life of Notre Dame are preserved here.

In the Treasury of Notre Dame de Paris

From the shrine, you can go to the underground Treasury, which was taken out under the square in front of the cathedral. It contains historical and religious relics: utensils, precious objects of art, and so on. But the most important items are the Crown of Thorns of Christ, one of the nails that crucified Jesus and a piece of the same cross.

Order and Cost of Visitation

To get inside Notre Dame de Paris, you have to stand in a long line. According to statistics, every day from 30 to 50 thousand people cross the threshold of Notre Dame, depending on the time of year. Entrance to the cathedral itself is free, but to climb the bell tower each adult has to pay 15 euros. Those whose age is less than 26 years can pass for free. The cost of visiting the Treasury is 4 euros for adults, 2 euros for young people 12-26 years old and 1 euro for visitors 6-12 years old. Children under 6 years can enter for free. In addition, on all Fridays of Lent, as well as on the first days of each month, the treasures are free for public viewing. These exhibitions usually start around three o’clock in the afternoon.

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You can feed the birds near the cathedral.

Each visitor has the opportunity to use the audio guide in English, German, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese or Japanese. The cost of this service is 5€.

How to get there

The full address of the shrine is 6 place du Parvis Notre-Dame, Ile de la Cit, 75004 Paris. The Chalet, Île de la Cité and Hôtel de Ville metro stations are a five-minute walk away. Alternatively, you can take bus routes 21, 38, 47 or 85. Notre Dame de Paris is open from 8:00 to 18:45 on weekdays, and from 7:00 to 15:00 on Saturdays and Sundays. Every Saturday services are held there at 5:45 and at 6:15 p.m.

Top 25: Surprising facts about Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral

Today we bring you an honorable list of 25 amazing facts about Notre Dame Cathedral. All over France, bells ring in solidarity with Notre Dame. One of the world’s most iconic monuments is no more.

The flames of a terrible fire destroyed several parts of the beautiful cathedral. But the good news is that many of the most important treasures were saved. The imposing bell towers and magnificent rose windows remained intact.

The local authorities plan to investigate and find the reasons for this tragedy. They have also announced that they are going to rebuild the cathedral and repair everything that was destroyed by the flames. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and that may be true of Notre Dame. So, regardless of your attitude toward religion, here are 25 amazing facts about Notre Dame Cathedral that will delight you.

25. Etymology of the cathedral’s name


The name Notre Dame translates as “Our Lady” and refers to the Virgin Mary. Several churches and chapels in France address the Virgin Mary as Our Lady. The Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris is the most famous of these.

24. The best example of French architecture


Experts from around the world consider Notre Dame one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture. The University of Notre Dame School of Architecture (The University of Notre Dame School) in Indiana, USA, was named after the iconic French cathedral. It was the first Catholic university in America to offer a degree in architecture as early as 1898.

23. Centuries of work

Construction of the cathedral began in 1160 under Bishop Maurice de Sully. Most of it was completed 100 years later, in 1260. The French continued to modify it until 1345, when the cathedral took its finished form.

22. The cathedral was badly damaged during the French Revolution


In the eighteenth century, French rebels hated the religious authorities more than anything else in the world. As a result of this socio-political phenomenon, Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral was brutally desecrated during the French Revolution. Many religious images were either damaged or completely destroyed.

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21. Napoleon restored it to its former glory


Napoleon was a great admirer of Notre Dame. So much so that in 1804 he was crowned Emperor of France in it.

20. Victor Hugo’s contribution.


In 1831 Victor Hugo published his novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The book did very well in France and led to a major reconstruction of Notre Dame between 1844 and 1864. During this restoration, the French added an iconic spire to the cathedral. Unfortunately, the spire collapsed in a recent fire.

19. The cathedral has an imposing size


The size of Notre Dame de Paris is truly impressive. To get an idea of it, imagine that the two towers reach a height of 69 meters (387 steps). In the south tower is the huge bell of Emmanuel.

18. For its roof, 1,300 trees were cut down


To build the roof of the cathedral between 1160 and 1170 the French had to cut down not one, not two, but 1,300 huge trees. Experts suggest that there aren’t that many tall trees in France today. Simply put, the new cathedral roof will probably not look the same as the original.

17. Below Notre Dame is the Temple of Zeus


Beneath Notre Dame is an ancient Gallo-Roman city known as Lutetia (52 BC). During excavations under the cathedral’s choir, workers found pieces of a sculpture dedicated to Zeus. In the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists discovered more ancient ruins, which confirmed their initial assumptions.

16. Its architecture follows the rule of the golden ratio


There is something else that links Notre Dame and the classical architecture of antiquity. The proportions of the cathedral follow the golden ratio, which represents perfect proportions in architecture and art. The ancient Greeks were the first to design and build a temple (the Parthenon) according to the laws of the golden ratio (1: 1,61).

15. The place of storage of the “Holy Crown of Thorns”


Notre Dame houses many treasures of incredible religious and historical value. One of them is the “Holy Crown of Thorns”. Some historians speculate that it is the authentic relic that Jesus was wearing when he was tortured.

14. A place for even more holy relics


Notre Dame also houses other artifacts related to the “Passion of Christ.” There is a piece of a cross and a nail that was supposedly used in the crucifixion of Jesus.

13. Chimeras not so old

Photo: www.

Gothic architecture is famous for its overuse of chimeras and grotesques. However, Notre Dame’s most famous chimeras are not as old as one might assume. None of them are from the Middle Ages. They were added in the 19th century during the restoration, which took place from 1844 to 1864.

12. The pink windows play more than just a decorative function


Many people mistakenly believe that the three pink windows play only a decorative role. But this is far from the truth. In fact, they symbolize the “Holy Trinity. They are designed in such a way as to give people a sense of the divine presence and light pouring into the cathedral from above.

11. The ten bells of Notre Dame de Paris


Any average church usually has a bell tower. Maybe two. Notre Dame Cathedral, however, is no ordinary church. That’s why it has ten bells. The largest and heaviest bell, Emmanuel, weighs an incredible 13 tons.

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10. All the bells have names (saints)


Emmanuel is not the only bell in Notre Dame. The other nine bells also have names. Here they are: Marie, Gabriel and Geneviève, Denis, Etienne, Bonneau-Joseph, Maurice, Jean-Marie.

9. The original bells became cannons


Unfortunately, during the French Revolution, the rebels removed the original bells from the cathedral. They are said to have been melted down into cannons. In memory of the original bells, each of the current bells bears the name of a saint.

8. The towers are not really twins


Although they are called twin towers, these towers are not actually twins. Look closely and you will notice that the north tower is slightly larger than the second tower.

7. Notre Dame is a “compass.”


Believe it or not, Notre Dame Cathedral is a kind of compass. In front of the church you will see a tiny plate that no one notices. It has a compass inscribed on it, which the locals call the “zero point.” Simply put, all distances to and from Paris are calculated from the zero point. Cool, isn’t it?

6. The agreement to liberate Paris from Hitler’s invaders was signed here


The liberation of Paris from the Nazi German forces took place at Notre Dame in 1944 to the chanting of the Magnificat. France was once again a free and democratic country.

5. 850 anniversary of Notre Dame de Paris


In 2013, Notre Dame de Paris celebrated its 850th anniversary. Local authorities improved the cathedral’s lighting and installed a new observation deck to emphasize its Gothic facade. They also renovated the organ and replaced the old bells with new ones. In six years they will have to renovate and improve the cathedral again. Unfortunately, no longer on the occasion of the holiday.

4. Life and Death at Notre Dame


In 1900 Louis Vierne became the cathedral’s organist. To do so, he had to face off against 500 other excellent organists. On June 2, 1937, Louis Vierne died at the cathedral organ as he neared the end of his 1750th concerto. He suffered a heart attack. The greatest artist in cathedral history died a happy man. He said on many occasions that it was his fondest wish to die at the keys of the great organ of Notre Dame.

3. the site of the largest organ in France


Since we mentioned the big Notre Dame organ, we should say that it is the largest organ in all of France. It has about 8,000 pipes, and it takes five keyboards to play. As you understand, to be someone like Louis Vierne, you have to have the greatest talent.

2. 18,000 Notre Dame Bees.


More than 18,000 bees live on the roof of the cathedral. A monk named Brother Adam put them there in 2013. He did this as part of a program to protect biodiversity and prevent the extinction of bees in France. No one yet knows if the hive survived the fire.

1. The most popular place in Paris Photo:

Admittedly, we didn’t know that either until we made this list. Apparently, the Eiffel Tower is not the number 1 monument in Paris today. Notre Dame attracts about 13 million people a year. The Eiffel Tower only attracts 7 million.

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