NOTRE DAME de Paris
Notre-Dame de Paris dates
back to the 13th century and is one of the masterpieces of Gothic
art in Western Europe. The Cathedral's stainglasses and the huge
interior are really stunning artistic experiences of mystical
dimension. Located on the Cité island and surrounded by
the Seine river, Notre-Dame is a flagship in the Parisian landscape
and provides a magnificent overview of the city from the top of
The site of Notre-Dame is the cradle of Paris and had been the religious
center of the city. The Celts had their sacred ground here, the
Romans had built a temple to worship Jupiter. A Christian basilica
was built in the 6th century and the last religious structure before
the Notre-Dame construction started was a Romanesque church.
Bishop Maurice de Sully began the construction in 1163. The Cathedral
was to be built in the new gothic style and had to reflect Paris's
status as the capital of the Kingdom France. It was the first cathedral
built on a monumental scale and became the prototype for future
cathedrals in France, like the cathedrals of Amiens, Chartres or
Rheims, just to name the most famous.
It took until 1345 before the cathedral was completed, partly because
the design was enlarged during construction. The result is an overwhelming
building, 130m long with two 69 meters tall towers. The spire, which
reaches 90m, was added in the 19th century by Viollet-le-Duc. The
Notre-Dame has several large rose windows, the northern 13th century
window is the most impressive. It is 21 meters high.
The spectacular eastern buttresses are 15m wide. The west side features
3 wide portals, the gallery of Kings and the famous gargoyles.
Excavations under the parvis have revealed traces of Notre-Dame's
history from Gallo-Roman times to the 19th century. Vestiges of
Roman ramparts, rooms heated by hypocaust (an ancient system with
underground furnaces and tile flues), medieval cellars, and the
foundations of a foundling hospital are displayed, as are several
fascinating photographs of the surrounding neighborhood before Baron
Starting in 1991, a 10 year program of general maintenance and restoration
was initiated. While work continues, sections of the structure are
likely to be shrouded by scaffolds.
Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame, Paris 4e
How to get there
Metro line 4 : Cité, St-Michel
RER B or C : St-Michel
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