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Notre-Dame de Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris
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The cathedral of Notre Dame, situated in the heart of Paris, is one of the most famous examples of Gothic architecture in the world. Built on the Ile-de-la-Cite, where a Roman temple to Jupiter once stood, the cathedral is dedicated to ‘Our Lady’, The Virgin Mary.

Bishop Maurice de Sully decided to build the cathedral with the support of King Louis VII, who contributed generously to its progress. Construction started in 1163 and was mostly finished by 1250. The south front, as we see it today, was added later in the thirteenth century and is associated with the work of the famous Gothic mason Pierre de Montreuil.

The north and south transept fronts are decorated with two rose windows, which were constructed using an elaborate stone support system. The west front displays three ornately carved portals (doorways), depicting the Last Judgement, the life of Mary and the life of her mother, Anne. The west front also boasts a rose window, considered to be a masterpiece of Gothic engineering.

During the French Revolution (1789-1799) Notre Dame was severely vandalized. The cathedral was used to store food and many of its treasures were destroyed or plundered. In 1845 a restoration program began which also saw the construction of the spire and the sacristy.

Notre Dame is not only the heart of Paris but also the heart of France. In 17658, geographers decided to measure all distances in France from the cathedral. A bronze plate at the front of the cathedral marks the zero point for all of France’s roads.


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