Notre Dame de Paris is a world famous Catholic Cathedral that boasts of magnificent French Gothic structures. . Situated on the Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, it is also called as ‘Our Lady of Paris’.
The construction history of Notre Dame de Paris dates back to 1160, when the then Bishop Maurice de Sully ordered demolition of the Paris cathedral, Saint-Étienne (St Stephen's) calling it unworthy. On its place, the foundation stone of Notre Dame de Paris was laid either by Sully or Pope Alexander III in 1163. The high altar was later consecrated in 1189. While sections like the western façade and the choir were ready by 1250, others like chapels, porches and various individual embellishments were incorporated during the next 100 years. The cathedral was completed in 1345. While Sully dedicated his life and finances for the construction, various architectures contributed to the building, which is evident from the different architectures in the Cathedral.
Medieval French Gothic Architecture
The Gothic visual marvel, Notre-Dame Cathedral comprises of key components like a choir and apse, square chapels, a short transept, and a nave flanked by double aisles. Another key component of the Cathedral, its central spire was added at the time of its restoration in the 19th century. While, the inner part of Notre Dame de Paris is 427 feet long and 157 feet wide, the roof is 115 feet in height.
The western façade of the Cathedral has two immense early Gothic towers, which were built from 1210-50 and add to the beauty of the Cathedral These 223 feet tall towers have three floors, which can be escalated by staircase of 402 steps only. The doors of the towers flaunt fine carvings of early Gothic times and are also surmounted by a row of idols representing the Old Testament kings. The towers were supposed to be crowned by spiral, which were never added to them. Emmanuel, the largest of the 10 bells of the tower is located at the top of the South Tower.
The eastern side of the cathedral has the apse, having large clerestory windows that were added from 1235–70. It is braced by single-arch flying buttresses, making the Cathedral one of the first world buildings to do so. Flying buttresses is a daring Rayonnant Gothic style, which is renowned for its grace and boldness. The cathedral boasts of three great rose windows, which are the only windows retaining their 13th-century glass.
Organ and Bells
The Cathedral has an organ, completely rebuilt in the 19th century. The organ of Notre Dame de Paris has 7,952 pipes and ca 900 is classified as historical. It also comprises of 110 real stops, five 56-key manuals as well as a pedalboard having 32-keys. Notre Dame de Paris has 10 bells. The largest and original bell Emanuel is located at the top of the South tower, while the nine are new replacements to the original (1681) resurrected in 2013 in the cathedral. The newly made second largest bell Marie, hangs along with Emanuel currently. Emanuel weighs 13 tonnes and is rung first among the rest as an indication of daily events.
Damage and restoration
In the 1790s, Notre-Dame de Paris suffered the wrath of the French Revolution. The building suffered desecration and most of its religious imagery was destroyed. But, thanks to the restoration process, which began in 1845 under the supervision of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, the damage was greatly restored. Also, the further restoration of the Cathedral, along with its maintenance, began in 1991, restoring the beauty of the original structure.