The Notre-Dame Cathedral is Paris, France is a cathedral church and one of the most famous Gothic cathedrals built during the middle ages. It is distinguished for its architecture, its size, and its antiquity. Notre-Dame is situated on one of Paris’s last remaining natural islands along the Seine and was built upon the ruins of two earlier period churches, dating back to an earlier Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter.
The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral was originally conceived by Maurice de Sully, who had the idea of converting the ruins of the two earlier basilicas into a much grander single building around 1160. In about 1163, Pope Alexander laid the foundation stone, while the consecration of the high alter took place in 1189. By 1250, the Nave, the western façade, and the choir were completed, while the chapels and porches in addition to other embellishments were added over the next 100 years.
The cathedral consists of a nave flanked by double aisles and square chapels, a short transept, and a choir and apse. It wasn’t until the 19th century restoration that the famous central spire was completed. There are two massive Gothic towers, built in the early 13th century, that crown the western façade of the cathedral. These Gothic towers are divided into three stories that are adorned by a row of Old Testament kings figures and doors that are adorned with Gothic carvings. The towers are about 68 meters high, though the spires were never added to the structure.
The cathedral’s interior is roughly 130 meters at its highest point. At the east end of the cathedral, the apse has large high windows above the eye line that are supported by Gothic styled single-arch flying buttresses. The 3 great rose windows are the only windows in the cathedral that still have their original glass.
Due to the damage and deterioration that the Notre-Dame Cathedral suffered over the centuries, major restorations were undertaken to rescue the building from possible destruction. In the mid-19th century, it was architect E.E. Viollet-le-Duc who was responsible for many of the major restorations that took place within the cathedral.
The French Cathedral also served as the setting for Victor Hugo’s 1831 masterpiece, Notre-Dame de Paris.