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Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most iconic symbols of Paris and a visit there when traveling to the French capital is a must. Located on the Ile de la Cite, the ancient island in the Seine, the Notre Dame Cathedral is an awe-inspiring sight, boasting of over 850 years of history. Dating to the mid-12th century, this remarkable Gothic structure was built to replace a Romanesque church that was destroyed by fire in 1160.

Notre Dame Cathedral is considered the finest example of French Gothic architecture and its richly decorated interior tells telling stories of the history of Paris. Begun in 1160 and completed in 1260, Notre Dame includes two towers with magnificent spires, richly carved portals, and elegant flying buttresses. Upon close examination, the intricacy of the sculptures, the delicate carvings, the grandeur of the transepts and the juxtaposition of light and shade make the cathedral an awe-inspiring sight.

The exterior of Notre Dame is festooned with nearly 300 intricate sculptures, ranging from the bas-relief of the Last Judgment on the north door to the famous gargoyles on the facade. The four grand portals of the façade, each devoted to a particular theme in the life of Mary, are composed of over 300 sculptures each, allowing visitors to delve into centuries old biblical stories. Gargoyles are positioned on the sides of the towers and the crowning glory of the cathedral is the iconic spire of its north tower that visitors can view from a distance.

The interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral is also remarkable, with its soaring vaulted archways and radiating chapels that serve to emphasize its spirituality. Stained glass windows, including some of the original 13th-century rose windows, illuminate the interior with a kaleidoscope of colors. The cathedral’s organ is the largest church organ in France and is capable of filling the vaulted space with awe-inspiring tones.

For travelers who want to learn more about the history of Notre Dame Cathedral, the archaeological crypt beneath the building is a must-see. This underground museum provides an in-depth look at how Paris evolved over time and how the cathedral served as its historic backdrop. Also of note is the Treasury Museum, which displays several of the cathedral’s original artworks and relics, including some of the historic statues and stained glass windows.

Few places are as beautiful and as awe-inspiring as Notre Dame Cathedral and it is the perfect addition to any travelers' itinerary when visiting Paris. Notre Dame’s intricate sculptures, delicate carvings and soaring arches provide a glimpse into centuries of history, making it an unforgettable destination.

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