History Carved in Stone
Notre-Dame Cathedral has been at the epicentre of the city of Paris for over 850 years. A historical landmark, a pillar of the Arts and a centre for spirituality, it is a must-see location for any trip to Paris.
Architecture and art
From the moment you step on to the Ile de la Cité Island and the Parvis square in front of the cathedral, its impressive size and structure invokes an almost spiritual awe.
Dating back to its consecration in 1163, the building itself is a stone and stained-glass representation of Biblical stories and morals.
The western façade has three doorways rich in symbolic decoration, which invite you into one of the World’s most beautiful Gothic churches. Elaborate stone carvings adorn the three entrances which actually differ in size. The central door is known as the Last Judgment portal, the southern door as Saint Anne’s portal and finally, the Virgin’s portal for the northern door.
Under the balustrade, the spectacular gallery of kings —28 statues representing the kings of Judah— stretches out along a wide horizontal frieze.
Treasure in the Towers
Now, step back and take a look up.
Two impressive 13th century bell towers rise up into the Parisian sky. Climb the 387 steps to take a closer look at the chimera gallery and its gargoyles - grotesque animal representations like Stryge, the gargoyle who looks out over Paris, and probably one of the most well-known. As you catch your breath, come face to face with Emmanuel, the cathedral’s biggest bell weighing in at 13,271 kg!
Don’t fancy the climb? The building’s three Rose Windows, offer visitors a real lesson in perspective and lighting effects. The most impressive is the south rose window: 12.9m of sparkling, colourful glass that filters daylight to reveal and expertly light the majesty of the building’s medieval architecture. Or perhaps the simple existence of a 33m high vaulted ceiling which, despite the daunting pillars that support it, seems to defy gravity itself.
Notre Dame de Paris’s very own crown jewels. The Treasury lies in the sacristy opening on the south side of the choir. Some 13 million visitors a year flock to see the cathedral’s most precious and most revered object: the Crown of Thorns. Other unique relics include a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.
Quasimodo and Esmerelda await…
The setting for Victor Hugo’s well-known novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, the cathedral’s place in art, literature and Parisian culture and society has stood the test of time. Frolo, Quasimodo and Esmerelda keep the cathedral’s history alive in the imagination of people worldwide.
Parvis Notre-Dame – place Jean-Paul-II 75004 Paris