France travel guide


Paris Travel Guide

Cathedral Notre Dame de Paris

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris, in English) is one of the most important Cathedrals in France and one of the most popular Cathedrals in the world. It reflects the born of Gothic Architecture style by being one of the first Cathedrals built under this style.

Its conception comes from a social need, a need of a new symbol for a new social and political power and by1160 the church of Saint Stephen (where Notre Dame Cathedral is now located) was looked upon as obsolete since it could not really display the prestige of a fast growing urban society.

It is precisely in the innate complex nature of Gothic Architecture that answers for all these requirements are found. With its flying buttresses, pointed arches and ribbed vaults the beauty of Notre Dame Church in Paris cannot easily be defined.

It is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ and it is surrounded by Lake Sena since it is located in La Cité Island and it is the official Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris.

A number of important events took place in Notre Dame, being the most remarkable ones:

  • The coronation of Napoleon (officiated by Pope Pius VII).
  • The Crown of Thorns is put in the Cathedral.
  • The Wolves of Paris are killed on the gates of the Cathedral.
  • The coronation of Henry VI as King of France.
  • The mother of Joan of Arc asks the Pope to overturn Joan´s conviction.

The construction of the Cathedral started in 1163 and it took around 182 years to complete it (1345); the place where the building is situated has a deep tradition of religion, being, in the beginning, an area for Celtic celebrations, then a Roman temple was built there and dedicated to Jupiter, later the Basilica of Saint Etienne was built followed by the Romanesque-designed Cathedral of Saint Stephen until its demolition.

Notre Dame has gone through different changes, for an instance, many treasures were stolen from it and many others destroyed during the French Revolution. It is a fact that the Cathedral suffered from many accidents and incidents but it is also a fact that many interesting restorations took place, such as the 1844 Restoration Program.

Two interesting facts are that the World-Famous writer Victor Hugo situated one of his most famous novels: The Hunchback of Notre Dame in this Cathedral and that one of the most impressive organs in France is kept in the Cathedral.

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