The spot where Notre Dame now stands has always been the religious center throughout the history of the city. For the Celts, this was a sacred piece of land, and the Romans built a temple to honor the god Jupiter. In the 6th century, Christian basilica were built on that spot and before the Notre-Dame was built a Romanesque church was standing there.
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Bishop Maurice de Sully began with the construction of the cathedral in 1163. It was designed in the new Gothic style at that period in time, and had to symbolize the status of Paris as the capital of the French Kingdom.
The Notre Dame was the first cathedral built on a monumental scale. It took until 1345 before the cathedral was finished. The result of two centuries of construction was a monumental building. 128 Meters long with two towers reaching 69 meters high.
Notre-Dame cathedral has several large rose windows of which the 13th-century northern window is the most impressive. The huge window has a diameter of no less than 13 meters. The frontal western side has three major portals, and just above the ‘Gallery of Kings’ (28 statues of kings of Judea), are the famous gargoyles and grotesque images.
During the French Revolution, both the interior and countless images that adorned the cathedral were destroyed or removed. Even the famous ‘Gallery of Kings’ was severely damaged. The revolutionaries thought it represented the kings of France. It took until the 19th century before the cathedral was restored.
The outside refurbishment led by the Parisian architect Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc took twenty years and is very controversial because of the many changes that were made like the aisles and the new steeple. He also added the spire, which reaches a height of 90 meters. The cathedral has recently been extensively renovated between 1991 and 2001, but this time taking into account the preservation of the existing historic architecture. Want to visit the Cathedral in person? Check out our France Holidays page, and book your trip to Paris, safe and secure online.