The 800-year-old cathedral is located on an isle, the Ile de la Cite. Notre Dame Cathedral was built by Maurice de Sully, bishop of Paris. Construction commenced in 1163, during the reign of King Louis VII, and was completed around 1345, a time when Paris had come into its own as a hub for commerce & center of politics. Constructed in an era when illiteracy was the norm rather than the exception, the cathedral features Biblical stories in its portals, paintings, and stained glass design. The cathedral is characterized by ornately crafted spires and other notable features of early Gothic architecture.
Among the momentous moments that have taken place at the cathedral was the crowning of Henry VI as king of France in 1431, and also of Napoleon (as emperor) in 1804, not to mention weddings of historical figures. Crusaders knelt to pray at the cathedral before setting off on their journey and engaging in holy wars. Revolutionaries ransacked and defaced the magnificent place of worship. Notre Dame Cathedral has been pillaged, restored, and has undergone numerous facelifts.
Today, it is both the art and architecture of the Notre Dame Cathedral that mesmerize visitors. The west front has 28 statues that represent Judaea’s and Israel’s monarchs. One will find the famed bell called Emmanuel at the south tower. The legendary guardians – gargoyles that were a fitting addition to the Gothic cathedral as part of restorative work during the 19th century – are on the Grand Gallery. Rose windows of stained glass, a hallmark of Gothic architecture, may not be as extraordinary as other cathedrals in France, but they nonetheless make a spectacular sight. Many historical artifacts, like a 17th century organ, may be seen inside the Notre Dame Cathedral.