Notre Dame de Paris

The Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris, a jewel of Gothic architecture, is France’s most visited monument, situated at the very tip of the Île de la Cité. Construction of the cathedral began in medieval times and continued over several centuries. Badly damaged during the French Revolution, the cathedral was restored in the 19th century under the direction of architect Viollet-le Duc. Visitors can admire its rose windows, stained glass, chapels, spire and gargoyles. They can also discover the Notre-Dame treasury and climb to the top of the towers to enjoy a spectacular panoramic view of the capital, especially on certain late-night -openings in summer. For its 850th anniversary in 2013, the cathedral renewed its collection of bells by acquiring eight new ones and a new tenor bell. A visit to the cathedral ends with the crypt, accessible from the parvis, where visitors can discover the foundations and vestiges of buildings constructed between the Gallo-Roman epoch and the 17th century. While on the parvis, be sure to have a look at the ‘kilometre zero’ plaque from which point road distances in France are calculated

Notre-Dame de Paris, also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is an historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture and among the largest and most well-known church buildings in the world. The naturalism of its sculptures and stained glass are in contrast with earlier Romanesque architecture. As the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris, Notre-Dame is the parish that contains the cathedra, or official chair, of the archbishop of Paris. The cathedral treasury is notable for its reliquary which houses some of Catholicism’s most important first-class relics including the purported Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails. In the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the radical phase of the French Revolution when much of its religious imagery was damaged or destroyed. An extensive restoration supervised by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc began in 1845. A project of further restoration and maintenance began in 1991.

Crypts beneath Notre-Dame de Paris

The Archaeological Crypt of the Paris Notre-Dame was created in 1965 to protect a range of historical ruins, discovered during construction work and spanning from the earliest settlement in Paris to the modern day. The crypts are managed by the Musée Carnavalet and contain a large exhibit, combining detailed models of the architecture of different periods, and how they can be viewed within the ruins. The main feature still visible is the under-floor heating installed during the Roman occupation

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Fire at Notre Dame de Paris

On the evening of the 15th April 2019 a terrible fire broke out at this iconic landmark of Paris. Extensive restoration works where underway  and scaffolding had been erected around sections of the building. Sixteen of the copper statues of the Apostles had been removed days earlier from the exterior of the building for restoration and safe keeping. After the doors had closed for the day the flames took hold and at around 18.30 could be seen coming through the wooden structure of the roof and flickering around the tall spire. Sadly, despite the efforts of the firefighters the cathedral suffered colossal damage, the roof was destroyed and the tower crumbled and fell but the main structure was saved as were the bell two towers. Much of the Cathedral’s wooden interior was destroyed and there was damage to the beautiful stained glass windows but many of the priceless treasures, including the Crown of Thorns worn by Jesus Christ at his crucifixion, were saved. The people of Paris watched the events unfold throughout the evening, many stood in silence while others sang hymns or prayed.

Notre Dame has witnessed many terrible events in its 850 years, such as the two World Wars and the French Revolution, but never before has it succumbed to the ravages of fire until now. The work to repair the beautiful Notre Dame de Paris will be a difficult task and will surely take a long time to complete but hopefully one day this cathedral will once again stand proudly over her beloved city and be as welcoming to her visitors and pilgrims as ever before.

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