Known as a gothic masterpiece, the cathedral of Notre Dame was conceived by Maurice de Sully in the 12th century. The cathedral took over 200 years to build. Construction was finally completed in 1345. In April of 2019, the cathedral was damaged in an inferno that ruined much of the structure. Rebuilding efforts are underway.
A short video about the cathedral:
Notre Dame is the spiritual and geographical center of France. All road distances in France are calculated on the basis of the “0 km” marked on the square in front of the cathedral. It is also one of the most visited sites in France. For those so inclined, it is unlikely that a “hunchback” ever rang the bells, so don’t waste any precious vacation time looking.
Notre Dame is located on an island in the Ile de la Cite neighborhood of Paris.
Historical Events at Notre Dame
- Construction of the cathedral takes place between 1163 and 1345 A.D.
- 1452 – A multi-day stage play called “The True Mystery of the Passion” is performed in the square at the front of Notre Dame. The performance continues non-stop for four straight days.
- 1558 – Mary Stuart, (Mary Queen of Scots), is crowned Queen of France at the cathedral of Notre Dame.
- 1793 – During the French revolution, the cathedral becomes known as a “temple of reason” and is spared from destruction.
- 1795 – The cathedral is sold to a private citizen who intended to destroy the building and use its stone as a quarry. Luckily his plans never come to fruition.
- 1802 – Napoleon Bonaparte saves the cathedral from demolition.
- 1804 – Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Emperor of France in the cathedral.
- 1940-1944 – Notre Dame square becomes the center of French resistance against the Nazis. Later the cathedral withstands a four day German siege.
Visit the official website of Notre Dame for more information.
Location: Place du parvis de Notre Dame , 75004 Paris
|Line 1 – Hotel de VilleCite, Line 4 – Cite, Line 7,11, and 14 – Chatalet|
|Line B – Châtelet-Les Halles, Line C – Saint Michel-Notre Dame|
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Ile de la Cite
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Ile de la Cite is considered the birthplace of Paris (read our complete Paris history). Notre Dame Cathedral, the Palais de Justice, and Sainte Chapelle are all located on the Ile de la Cite. Ile de la Cite translates into “Island of the City” in English.
Along with the Sainte Chapelle, la Conciergerie was part of the original royal Palace in Paris on the Ile de la Cite. The Gothic vaulted Salle des Gens d’Armes and massive kitchens remain from the medieval period.
The palace became a prison under the watch of the Concierge during the Reign of Terror during the French Revolution. Outside, la Conciergerie is the Tour de l’Horloge which contains the first public clock built in Paris. The clock, built in 1370, has been restored recently. It is a sight to see.
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At the eastern end of the island, a bridge connects with the smaller Ile Saint Louis. The island, a former swampy pasture, was transformed into a residential area with pretty, tree lined streets. Though Ile Saint Louis hosts no remarkable monuments, it’s considered one of the most pleasant places in Paris for a stroll or lunch. It has retained it’s charm and authenticity throughout the centuries.
- Sainte-Chapelle: 4, bd du Palais, 1st; phone : 43 54 30 09 – open Oct-Mar daily 10am-5pm; Apr-Sep daily 9.30am-6.30pm.
- La Conciergerie: 1, quai de l’Horloge, 1st; phone : 43 54 30 06 – open daily 10am-6pm