If we ask you what is the most famous and visited Parisian monument, your answer will be definitely “Eiffel Tower” or “Louvre museum”. However, the truth is different from what you think. Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral is Paris’ most visited monument with more than 14 million visitors a year.
Located in the 4th arrondissement, Notre Dame de Paris ( Our Lady of Paris), is the masterpiece of French Gothic architecture. The first stones were laid in 1163 and the building process ended in 1345. For almost two centuries, many sorts of workers and artists with different backgrounds, views and tastes, which explains thereafter its aesthetic richness and diversity.
It epitomizes, at once, early engineering, architecture and imagination resulting in a majestic building of 128 meter (420 ft) long with two 69 meter tall towers ( 226ft). Even if you are not a keen fan of cathedrals, just by standing in front of this edifice, you will feel overwhelmed by its grandeur, outstanding architecture and awesome history. The Gothic architecture is clearly manifested in the use of flying buttress which are of 15m wide to support the weight and horizontal thrust of the high arches and domes spanning the interior space, enabling the breathtaking panoramic view from the top. Notre Dame cathedral was among the first buildings in the world to use this technique.
Furthermore, if you are the type who pays attention to details, you will be dazzled by the know-how of artists who worked on the frontal west facade which features three wide portals. Above these portals you can see 28 statues representing Judean Kings. Higher up are the famous gargoyles and grotesques used aesthetically as decoration and technically to drain rainwater off the roof.
After all what you have seen, you make think that this is all what Notre Dame cathedral has to offer. Again, you are wrong! Though the exterior is awe inspiring, the true beauty is portrayed from the moment you step in.
You will instantly be cast back to the middle ages. The inside is truly beautiful and will leave you in wonderment. With no doubt, the high altar beautifully adorned with golden statues will take your breath away. Another hallmark of Notre Dame de Paris are the stunning stained glass rose windows. The northern thirteenth-century window, with a diameter of 13.1 meter, is the most impressive.
Of course, pictures don’t quite do it justice. Just go and check yourself and you won’t regret it! Just keep on mind to be quiet and avoid using flash when taking photos, as the cathedral is still an active Catholic church and a religious center of the capital.
A plus reason to visit Notre Dame de Paris cathedral is that entrance is FREE! You pay only if you want to have a panoramic view from the top (which is really worth waiting and climbing about 420 stairs).
PS: Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned Emperor of the French in Notre Dame de Paris cathedral in 1804.