History Carved in Stone
Notre-Dame Cathedral has stood tall as the epicenter of Paris for over 850 years.
A pillar of the arts, a foundation of spirituality, and a historical landmark, Notre Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) has a definitive place on the cultural landscape of France and is a must-see when visiting Paris.
Immediately upon reaching the main square facing the cathedral on the île de la Cité, a certain silence takes hold - the same anticipation as opening a new book.
Notre Dame de Paris tells a story, starting with its consecreation in 1163. She is a veritable bible, with stone, stained glass, and symbols taking the place of doctrines and text.
Her architecture - the geometric purity - is quintissential of French art in the Middle Ages. After two centuries of construction and a mix of various Gothic styles, the cathedral stands as an emblem of medieval Paris. Her beauty and symbolism move visitors from all over the world, regardless of religious affiliation - a truly universal appeal.
Touring the Cathedral
On the western facade, three portals (or main entrances) invite you to enter one of the most beautiful Gothic cathedrals in the world. Its doorways, unequaled in grandeur, are carved full of allegories: the Last Judgement (the center portal), the Invocation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the right portal), and the Death of Mary (the left portal).
Beneath the balustrade, at the same level of the Rose Window, stretches a spectagular gallery of kings. Twenty-eight statues representing the sovereigns of Judah line the edifice.
Treasure in the Towers
Looking up, you'll see two majestic 13th-century belltowers rising into the Parisian sky. If you climb up all 387 steps, you'll come face to face with Emmanuel, the great bell of Notre Dame and the second largest in France. You'll also have the opportunity to take a closer look at the chimeras' gallery.
As you catch your breath, the grotestque, beast-like gargoyles will leave you smiling, spooked, and in awe - especially Stryge, the famous status representing nighttime and evil spirits.
Three Rose Windows
It's time to enter the Cathedral for a lesson on perspective and tricks of light.
What's there to see? Three stunning Rose Windows, especially the one on the southern façade, the crown jewel of the transept. The dazzling 12.9 meter-wide stained glass windows form a filter of light, highlighting the grandiose architecture. The church's massive pillars seem to devy gravity, stretching to support the 33-meter high vaulted veiling.
Relics of the Passion
Discover the jewels of Notre Dame de Paris.
The treasures lie in the sacristy, on the south side of the choir. Some 13 million annual visitors flock to see the reliquary most precious and most revered object: the Crown of Thorns.
Other notable relics include a fragment of the True Cross and one of the Holy Nails from the Passion of the Christ.
Secular, religious, enlightening and mysterious, such is the destiny of Notre-Dame Cathedral: a theatre that stands the test of time, a stage enduring human comedy, and a unique place for worship all together.
Victor Hugo used the cathedral as a setting for his famous novel, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. With Frolo, Quasimodo, and Esmeralda holding our imagination, Notre-Dame de Paris’s universal legacy lives on.
Parvis Notre-Dame – place Jean-Paul-II