One of the biggest attractions of Paris, Notre-Dame is next to the ground zero of the city. Built in the Middle Ages, its structure had to be ideal as the highest ever built in the world. It survived over 850 years of wars, invasions and revolutions. For a long time has been overlooked by the French, but it was completely reformed after the huge success from masterpiece of Victor Hugo: The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. The novel released in 1831, which tells the story of Quasimodo and his love for the gypsy Esmeralda, gave new life to the cathedral.
Today, the building is one of the most beautiful of all the capital of France. Tourists can experience the towers and the crypt of the building, as well as watching a few nightly performances. Here’s a little more about the history of the place and check out which its main attractions.
History of the Notre-Dame Cathedral
Conceived by Bishop Maurice Sully, the cathedral is a tribute to the Virgin Mary. Its construction started in 1163 and ends in 1345, after some changes in the structure and reinforcements to the beautiful building. The Gothic architecture of Notre-Dame is shown in its ogival vaults, as well as its various flying buttresses, pillars and buttresses. Passed by the Crusades, the Hundred Years War and the French Revolution, getting extremely vandalized the end of that extended period. Much of his works, treasures and riches were looted and even bells experienced actions of vandalism. But in 1845, after being portrayed in the main work of Victor Hugo, the cathedral was completely renovated. For all its tradition, became the Archdiocese of Paris, and receives millions of tourists every year.
Attractions around Notre-Dame
One of the biggest attractions of this huge cathedral is its architecture: is difficult to imagine how, in the Middle Ages, a building of its size has been so well designed. The main facade is composed of three incredible portals, worked with several images on the stones. They depict scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary and the parents, of Jesus Christ and several other biblical characters. The Portal of Santa Ana, considered as the main, was made at the beginning of the construction of the cathedral, while the Portal of the Virgin was built in the time when the works were over. The third, called the Portal of Judgment, is the youngest of them all: it dates from eighteenth century, when began some of the redeveloped site.
The interior of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is monumental, and is where religion and art combine to delight visitors. Besides the convoluted Gothic elements, you can still see several sculptures, paintings and medallions. The windows also draw attention: there are nearly two hundred of them, including some of the largest ever made in history. It is in the center of the cathedral that lies one of the major works: a lovely Virgin Mary surrounded by medallions representing characters in the Old Testament and some other historically important personalities. Among them are some of the major prophets, kings and clerics, which contributed to the spread of Christianity. Another attraction (this somewhat unusual) is the statue of Joan of Arc, who was beatified in place in 1909.
The towers and the crypt are a visit to part – for eight euros, you can find one of the most beautiful views of Paris. The ascent of 387 steps is worth not only so: with it, tourists can contemplate the gargoyles and demons designed by Viollet-le-Duc. Are also tours to the collection of religious items and treasures of the cathedral. Many of the objects stolen during times of crisis were recovered or replenished, also counting donations of Napoleon Bonaparte. The main objects are crosses, pictures and sculptures of saints, chalices, liturgical vestments and rare books. One of the greatest relics of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame is the supposed crown of thorns of Jesus Christ, kept in a reliquary of gold, diamonds and other precious stones.
In 2013, there will anniversary celebrations of 850 years of the cathedral. Therefore, the city of Paris will perform musical and theatrical events throughout the year at the site. Among the highlights are performances of medieval music, Symphony Orchestra of Notre-Dame and classic hits world. In addition, there will be a return of the old bells and improvements in indoor lighting. The timing of the festival can be seen on this site.
About the Cathedral of Notre-Dame
- Free entrance to the cathedral.
- The site is open every day from 8:00am to 18:45. To learn more about the operation of guided tours, climb the towers or access to the archives, visit the official website of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
- The official site of the cathedral also gives complete information about the trip and the access to the site, either by taxi or by public transport. Check this page as it arrives at the Cathedral of Notre-Dame.
- It is not allowed to enter the site with low-cut blouses or skirts and short shorts.
- To visit France, tourists need a passport and visa.
- The official currency is the euro.
- The official language is French, but the main sights offer guided tours in several languages.
- It is mandatory travel insurance that covers medical expenses in case of emergency.