Notre Dame Cathedral, located in the heart of Paris, is one of the most iconic and beloved landmarks in the world. With its stunning Gothic architecture, rich history, and cultural significance, Notre Dame has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of people for centuries.
Let’s explore the wonders of this beautiful and historic cathedral with these 12 fun facts about Notre Dame:
1. Victor Hugo, The Man Who Saved Notre Dame
Victor Hugo, the author of “Les Misérables” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” inspired the French people to rise up and save the historic cathedral from demolition in the 19th century.
2. A Masterpiece In the Making
The construction of Notre Dame Cathedral spanned over two centuries, from 1163 to 1345. The cathedral was built in the Gothic architectural style, which was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. The intricate details of the cathedral, such as the flying buttresses and stained glass windows, required careful planning and expert craftsmanship, making Notre Dame a true masterpiece of medieval architecture.
3. The Mighty Organ of Notre Dame
Notre Dame is home to France’s largest pipe organ, with five keyboards and around 8,000 pipes.
4. Rose Tinted Glass
The famous rose windows in Notre Dame were created in the 13th century and are some of the most stunning examples of Gothic stained glass in the world.
5. The Bells, The Bells
The cathedral’s bells weigh a combined 23 tons and were made famous in Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
6. The Flying Buttresses
Notre Dame’s flying buttresses were a revolutionary feat of medieval engineering, allowing for taller and more ornate Gothic architecture.
7. The Notre Dame Treasury
The treasury of Notre Dame contains a vast collection of priceless artifacts, including chalices, vestments, and reliquaries.
8. The Great Fire of 2019
In April 2019, a devastating fire broke out at Notre Dame, causing extensive damage to the cathedral’s roof and spire.
9. The Gargoyles
The famous gargoyles of Notre Dame have been perched atop the cathedral for over 800 years, protecting it from evil spirits and bad luck.
10. Notre Dame’s North Tower
Visitors can climb the 387-step staircases to the top of Notre Dame’s north tower for a stunning panoramic view of Paris.
11. The Crypt: Home to Notre Dame’s Past
The crypt beneath Notre Dame contains the remains of former archbishops and a collection of archaeological treasures.
12. The New Beginnings: A Restoration in Progress
In the wake of the 2019 fire, Notre Dame is currently undergoing a massive restoration effort to repair and rebuild the beloved cathedral.
FAQs about Notre Dame
Is Notre Dame open to visitors after the 2019 fire?
Following the fire in 2019, Notre Dame Cathedral was closed to visitors for safety reasons. However, as of December 2021, parts of the cathedral have reopened to visitors, including the nave, choir, and part of the transept. The restoration process is ongoing, but visitors can still admire the cathedral's stunning architecture and learn about its rich history.
What happened to the spire of Notre Dame during the 2019 fire?
During the 2019 fire at Notre Dame, the cathedral's spire collapsed into the nave of the church. The spire was a 19th-century addition to the cathedral and was built by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. Its collapse was a devastating loss to the cathedral's architecture and cultural heritage.
What is the significance of the gargoyles on Notre Dame?
The gargoyles on Notre Dame are not merely decorative elements, but serve a functional purpose. Gargoyles are architectural features that are used to channel rainwater away from the building's walls, preventing damage and erosion over time. The grotesque and fantastical designs of the gargoyles are also thought to have served as a deterrent to evil spirits, a common belief during medieval times.
Do you know any fun facts about Notre Dame? Share them in the comments below!