- Location: Ile de la Cite
- Dates: 1163-1345
- Architecture: Gothic
- Time to Visit: Between October and March
- Opening hours: Open every day of the year from 8:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. and to 7:15 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays
- Admission Fee: Free
- How to Reach: You can access metro from the Ligne 4 Station Cite or Saint-Michel, Ligne 1, 11 Station Hotel de Ville, Ligne 10 Station Maubert-Mutuality or Cluny — La Sorbonne, Lignes 7, 11 et 14 Station Chatelet or take bus from the Lines nÂ°21, 38, 47, 85, 96 Stop Cite – Palais de Justice, Line nÂ°47, Balabus Stop Cite – Parvis de Notre-Dame, Lines nÂ°24, 47 Stop Notre-Dame – Quai de Montebello, Lines nÂ°24, 47 Stop Petit Pont, Lines nÂ°24, 27, Balabus Stop Pont Saint-Michel — Quai des Orfevres, Lines nÂ°24, 27, 96, Balabus Stop Saint-Michel, Lines nÂ°21, 27, 38, 85, 96 Stop Saint-Michel — Saint-Germain.
Apart from them, frequent taxis are also available from Parvis Notre-Dame at the corner of the Hotel-Dieu (4th arrondissement), Place Saint-Michel (5th arrondissement) and Place Maubert (5th arrondissement)
- Parking: Notre-Dame Car Park, Lutece – Cite Car Park, Hotel de Ville Car Park, Lobau – Rivoli Car Park, Place Saint-Michel Car Park, Lagrange Car Park, Maubert — Saint-Germain Car Park
- Nearest Railway Station: Ligne B Station Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame, Ligne C Station Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame
- Nearest metro station: St-Michel Notre Dame – RER B Train Line (blue), St-Michel Notre Dame – RER C Train Line (yellow), Cite – Line 4 (fuschia)
- Nearest International Airport: Charles de Gaulle
The downcast eyes of the saints and prophets in solemn meditation on the sad, somber mystery of the human and the divine stand in stark contrast to the grotesque majesty of the enigmatic gargoyles at the Notre Dame in Paris, the pinnacle of Gothic imagination and architecture. The lofty buttresses, the expansive nave, the piers, and the legendary bell tower all give a sense of mystery and majesty to the Notre Dame that is unequaled in world architecture. The carved facades, ornate stained-glass windows, and the impressive interior add to its elegance and quiet grandeur.
The cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is located on the eastern half of the Ile de la Cite and offering a majestic view of the city of Paris from the top of its towers, is unquestionably one of the masterpieces of Gothic arts in Western Europe. The name ‘Notre Dame’ stands for “Our Lady” in French. Built-in the 13th century during the reign of Saint Louis, the cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop.
Located on the site of Saint Etienne basilica, the first Christian church of Paris, the first version of Notre Dame was a “magnificent church”, built by King Childebert I and it became the “parish church of the Kings of Europe” in 1160.
Construction of the present cathedral was started in the year 1163, during the reign of Louis VII. The cathedral underwent major modifications at the end of the 17th century, during the reign of Louis XIV and Louis XV and fell a victim to the French Revolution in 1793.
Most important restitution programs were undertaken in 1845, supervised by architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and in 1991.
What to see
The West Front with its two 69-meter tall towers is one of the most distinguishing features of the cathedral. “Emmanuel”, the famous bell is kept in the South Tower. The Galerie des Chimeres acts as a link between the two west towers. It is the place where the legendary gargoyles of the cathedral are found. The King’s Gallery displays a collection of statues of the 28 Kings of Judah and Israel, which was remodeled by Viollet-le-Duc to restore the statues damaged during the French Revolution. The beautiful West Rose Window dates from about 1220.
The 3 west portals of Notre Dame Cathedral, sculpted between 1200 and 1240, truly represent the specimen of early Gothic art. They portray scenes from the life of the Virgin Mary, the Last Judgment, and scenes from the life of St. Anne (mother of Virgin Mary).
The notable portals are Last Judgment Portal (Center West Portal), Portal of St. Anne (Right West Portal), Portal of the Virgin (Left West Portal), Transept Portals.
The tympanum of the portal of St. Anne, the first of the three west portals, is a specimen of an earlier Romanesque piece of work. The portal of the Virgin, devoted to the patroness of the cathedral, is usually the exit door for the visitors. The tympanum features the Coronation of the Virgin, with an angel crowning Mary while Christ is seen blessing and giving her a scepter. The Christ is seen less as judge and more as the suffering savior of humanity in the central west portal which was sculpted last of the three, in the 1220s and 1230s.
The south transept portal was dedicated to St. Stephen and the tympanum portrays scenes from his life. The base of the tympanum of the north transept portal depicts scenes that relate to the birth of Christ – Nativity, Presentation, and Massacre of the Innocents while the upper two sections illustrate miracles of St. Theophilus. There is a 13th-century statue of the Virgin Mary on the trumeau.
Stained Glass Windows
The stained glass windows, dating back from the 13th century, epitomize the 13th-century Gothic art. There is a set of three beautiful rose windows, namely West Rose, South Rose, and North Rose and they shine like real jewels over the west door and in the north and south transept.
Bringing out the symbolic scenes such as the Zodiacs and Labors of the Months, the main theme of the west rose is human life. The main themes of the south rose window, donated by King St. Louis, revolve around the New Testament, the Triumph of Christ and the symbolic number four. Though the main theme of north rose is the Old Testament, the central medallion illustrates the Virgin and Child.
Visiting Notre Dame
The city of Paris offers several world-renowned attractions to choose from and Notre Dame Cathedral is one of them. Not only the adults but also the children enjoy their visit, especially since Disney came out with an animated “Hunchback” movie.
Where to stay
Paris has a wide variety of accommodation to suit every budget, from luxury 5-star hotels to modest accommodation. You are sure to find suitable Paris hotels near the Notre Dame Cathedral as well. They offer easy access to the main business, shopping, sightseeing and entertainment venues of the city along with a wide range of modern facilities as well as basic amenities under the same roof.
Some of the popular hotels, located close to Notre Dame include Hotel Abbatial Saint Germain, Degres de Notre Dame Hotel, Grand Hotel Dumont Blanc, Hotel Henri IV rive gauche, Hotel Le Colbert, Le Notre Dame Hotel, Hotel Saint Louis.
Make a visit to Notre Dame Cathedral, a most impressive marvel of medieval architecture. With a grand exterior, dual towers, and an extensive interior, Notre Dame de Paris is a worthy stop on any Paris itinerary. Victor Hugo’s famous novel ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ gives a very vivid and poetic image of this exquisite Gothic Cathedral. That account is unsurpassed in human history in its profundity and sheer evocative power.
However, you can also browse through the following links for a clear idea of the tours to the cathedral:
http://france-travel.suite101.com/article.cfm/sightseeing_on_a_paris_open_top_tour_bus: Read about the travel details to Notre Dame in this entry. It is both an interesting as well as an informative travel account.
http://hubpages.com/hub/Notre-Dame-Cathedral: Another very useful and informative travel blog. A clip from the animated film ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ may just interest you.
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=01ZoBscawjg: For an inside view inside the Notre Dame, including a Mass in progress, watch this video!
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=2vKEAQ3Cghc: A very detailed and meticulous video on the Notre Dame. This will bring you closest to a real journey to this wonderful French Gothic Cathedral.
http://www.metacafe.com/watch/1674177/notre_dame_de_paris_cathedral_in_france/: A short travel video. You will get an idea of the majesty and the grandeur of this medieval cathedral by watching this video!
http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=A1x_iygk9BM: For a close-up of the best sculptures of the cathedral, watch this video! You will get an authentic feel of the solemnity of this place.