Places to See: Notre Dame – Part I
The cathedral of Notre Dame is located in the Fourth Arrondissement in Paris France, on the ancient Île de la Cité. Notre Dame is one of the crowning jewels of French Gothic architecture in the world, was one of the first buildings to use flying buttresses, and is the current seat of the Archbishop of Paris.
Until the third century, the building space was previously occupied by a pagan temple. In the fourth century, a large Christian church with five naves was built and dedicated to Saint-Étienne (Saint Stephen). The church of Saint-Étienne was demolished in the thirteenth century at the behest of the bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully (1160-1196), to replace the structure in the new Gothic style. Notre Dame is famous for its use of the Rayonnant style, a French Gothic architecture popular during thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This style was also used in Sainte-Chappelle. The building of the new cathedral was begun on October 12th, 1160 and finally completed in 1345. The cathedral is well known for its astounding reliquary collection, the most famous being Christ’s Crown of Thorns brought to the cathedral in 1239 by Louis IX of France.
Unfortunately, like other famous Parisian monuments, Notre Dame suffered damage in the late eighteenth century during the violence of the French Revolution and again one hundred and fifty years later during WWII. A twenty-five year restoration began on the cathedral in 1854 and a second round of repairs took place in 1991, finally being completed in 2010.
To call the cathedral beautiful could possibly be the world’s biggest understatement. The cathedral is free, so there is no excuse to come to Paris and not step inside its magnificent walls. While I didn’t use one, you can purchase an audio guide for €5. You can also opt for a free guided tour of the grounds in various languages by checking times here. There are also tours provided for the cathedral treasury and crypt. Lastly, you can go up the cathedral towers and enjoy a spectacular view of Paris while schmoozing with the famous water spout gargoyles. I did not have a chance to climb to the top on this visit, as I was short on time, but it is something I would highly recommend and get back to when I return in January 2015 for Part II of my Notre Dame report. Until then, Au Revoir!
SLIDESHOW of NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
For more information about your next visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, please visit: www.notredamedeparis.fr and notre-dame-de-paris.monuments-nationaux.fr
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