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Notre Dame, the gothic jewel of Paris

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our Lady

There are places in the world that need no introduction as their fame speaks for itself. This is the case of Notre-Dame or Notre-Dame de Paris, one of the monuments that we have seen most often in postcards, films and books. Notre Dame is a marvel of art, a must-see on Paris tours not to be missed. Below, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about this cathedral whose beauty has captivated entire generations.

History of Notre Dame

exterior of notre dame

The construction of this majestic Gothic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary on the Ile de la Cité took a lot of time and effort. Work began in 1163 and was not completed until 1345. Over time, the cathedral has witnessed countless historical events such as the beatification of Joan of Arc and the coronations of Napoleon Bonaparte or Henry VI d ‘England.

In 1793, during the French Revolution, Notre-Dame became a temple to reason and many of its treasures were stolen. Moreover, a large part of the sculptures were destroyed and even the Virgin Mary was replaced by images of freedom on various altars. During this period the church eventually became a warehouse and it was not until 1845 that a restoration program began which lasted over two decades.

Later, during the Second World War, Notre-Dame suffered from German bombardments, although it was fortunately not destroyed.

Visit Notre Dame

gargoyle

Although Notre-Dame Cathedral is a working Catholic church, it has also long since become a major tourist attraction.it is therefore almost obligatory to get to know this church located on the Ile de la Cité during your stay in Paris.

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Spanish speakers visiting Notre Dame over the weekend should know that free guided tours are offered in Spanish every Saturday at 2:30 p.m. If you cannot attend on Saturday, there are guided tours in English on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 2:00 p.m. You can also rent an audio guide.

In addition to being able to enjoy the impressive facade and interiors of the Gothic temple, it is possible to climb the south tower and contemplate the famous gargoyles and spectacular views of the Seine, the Ile de la Cité and Paris. It’s even visiting the crypts of the cathedral and the archaeological museum, which houses underground Roman ruins.

Entrance to Notre Dame is free, so given the influx of people, it is best to go early to wait in line. Notre Dame is open to the public Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:15 p.m. On the other hand, access to the towers and the crypt is priced respectively at 8.50 and 7 euros. Minors enter for free.

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The interior of Notre Dame

inside our lady

The interior of the cathedral stands out for its luminosity, thanks to the large bay windows that open into the apse, skylights, skylights and side naves. Most of the stained glass windows that can be seen today were placed during the successive restorations that were carried out from the 19th century.

From the sculptural point of view, the monumental Pietà stands out at the head, sculpted by Nicolas Coustou in the 18th century, which presides over Our Lady from the center of the apse. Alongside the statue are the effigies of King Louis XIII, by Guillaume Coustou, and Louis XIV, by Antoine Coysevox, both kneeling and surrounded by angels carrying Arma Christi.

The great organ of Notre-Dame is an immense and beautiful instrument, the work of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll for the most part. It has 113 games and 7,800 hits, some of which are from the Middle Ages, as well as a box decorated with automatons. It can be heard every Sunday at 5:15 p.m., when one of the principal organists of Notre-Dame plays it, or during recitals given once a month, on Thursdays, by organists from all over the world.

church of our lady

Notre-Dame cathedral preserves an important treasure linked to the Passion of Christ: a fragment of the crown of thorns and of the True Cross as well as one of the nails of the crucifixion. These relics were purchased by King Louis IX from the Emperor of Constantinople. In 1239, the king himself brought the relics to Notre-Dame while a suitable building was built for them, which would later become the Sainte Chapelle. During the French Revolution, the relics were taken to the National Library. After the Concordat of 1801, they were handed over to the custody of the Archbishop of Paris, who deposited them again in 1806.

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