Notre-Dame de Paris: The Gothic jewel of the City of Light
Today, we are presenting you with one of the most beautiful monuments of Paris. It's also one of the oldest building of the french capital : the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris.
The history of the Notre-Dame de Paris
Overlooking the Ile de la Cité and the fourth arrondissement, the cathedral of Notre-Dame is one of the greatest symbols of French history. An emblematic place of worship with a thousand secrets, this remarkable building is one of the most popular destinations in France and is visited by about twenty million people a year. Its magnificent Gothic architecture has inspired many great artists, who gradually became famous through their works. The painter David is particularly associated with the cathedral after he immortalised Napoleon's famous coronation in 1804, while Victor Hugo made Notre Dame the setting of the romance of the bell-ringer Quasimodo and the gipsy Esmeralda, in his novel, 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'.
History and architecture in an urban space
The site of the Notre Dame was the location of a succession of ancient temples and basilicas, until 1160, when Maurice de Sully, the bishop of Paris, wanted to offer the city a great place of worship dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Legend has it that Pope Alexander III laid the first stone of the building. Its construction took about 150 years and the building has since undergone several restorations. A masterpiece of Gothic architecture, the cathedral has two towers, each with a height of 69 metres and offering magnificent views of Paris. Gargoyles and statues, three huge rose windows and its most imposing bell, named Bourdon Emmanuel, have established themselves as mythical elements of one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Europe.
The cathedral as a cultural centre
Notre Dame de Paris hosts a lively and active parish, and each year brings together a large number of faithful. Each year, more than 2000 religious celebrations take place between its walls at the rate of five to seven services each day. The cathedral also regularly hosts concerts of sacred music and conferences dealing with spirituality and religion. In the halls of the Sacristy of the Chapter, there are priceless relics of the Passion of Christ, such as the Crown of Thorns, and many other exceptional reliquaries and cameos. Moreover, Notre-Dame remains a place of ceremony and tribute to many great men; it was the site of the state funeral of Abbé Pierre, Charles de Gaulle, Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand.
Life around the cathedral
In front of the Notre-Dame, the atmosphere is often warm and friendly. The green spaces attract people who want to enjoy the romantic setting of the Ile de la Cité and street artists, who want to find a source of inspiration. Nearby is the Point Zéro of the roads of France, marked by a bronze plaque. This symbolises the reference mark that is used to calculate the distance of other cities. Nearby, the Square du Vert-Galant offers the ideal view of the Seine and the Pont Neuf, the oldest and most famous bridge in Paris that allows people to pass from one side of the river to the other.