Notre Dame


Place du Parvis Notre-Dame
Métro Cité, St Michel
Tel: 01 43 26 07 39

8:00 am - 7:00 pm everyday (free)
and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm 

   Built on a site sacred since Roman times (a temple of Jupiter was once built on the Ile de la Cité), Notre-Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of gothic architecture in France. The first stone was lain by the bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, in 1163. The construction and design were done by the best artisans and directed by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil, and the church was completed around 1345. The principal altar was erected in 1182 and the chancel in 1177, while the nave was not finished until the beginning of the 13th century. The cathedral was greatly damaged during the Revolution, but was restored in the 19th century by Viollet le Duc starting in 1841. The spires and the sacristy date from this era. 

The façade of the cathedral is composed of several levels, crowning the three great portals: the Portal of the Last Judgement, the Portal to the Virgin, and the Portal to Saint Anne. Above this is the Gallery of Kings, consisting of the statues of 28 kings of Judah and Israel, reworked by Viollet le Duc after their destruction during the Revolution. 
The Rose Window, 10 meters in diameter, is separated into three circles, each of which is subdivided into 12 and 24 parts. In front of it stands the statue of the Virgin Mary carrying the Baby Jesus; Mary is the patron saint of the cathedral. 
   The Great Gallery, a line of arches, links Notre Dame's two towers. Viollet le Duc placed statues of fantastic monsters and animals here at the buttress corners.
The towers stretch up a full 69 meters (over 75 yards). The south tower houses the large bell "Emmanuel", weighing 13 metric tons (over 28,000 pounds). The clapper alone weighs 500 kilograms - 1, 100 pounds! This bell is Notre-Dame's oldest: it is said that when it was recast in 1631, women threw their jewelry into the metal, giving the bell its unique, pure tone.

The cathedral itself is 130 m long, 48 m wide, and 35 m tall, and indisputably a masterpiece of Gothic art. The central nave where churchgoers come to service is surrounded by 29 choirs.