Arc de Triomphe
Proceeded by a Gallo-Roman temple to Jupiter,
a Christian basilica, and a Romanesque church, construction of Notre-Dame
de Paris began in 1163 during the reign of Louis VII. Pope Alexander
III laid the foundation stone. The idea to replace the Romanesque
church occupying the site - the Cathedral of St. Etienne (founded
by Childebert in 528) - was that of Bishop Maurice de Sully (who
died in 1196). (Some accounts claim that there were two churches
existing on the site, one to the Virgin Mary, the other to St. Stephen.)
Construction was completed roughly 200 years later in about 1345.
The choir was completed in 1182; the nave in 1208, and the west
front and towers circa 1225-1250. A series of chapels were added
to the nave during the period 1235-50, and during 1296-1330 to the
apse (Pierre de Chelles and Jean Ravy). The transept crossings were
build in 1250-67 by Jean de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil (also
the architect of the Sainte-Chapelle). It was essentially completed
according to the original plans.
The reigns of Louis XIV (end of the
17th century) and Louis XV saw significant alterations including
the destruction of tombs, and stained glass. At the end of the 18th
century, during the Revolution, many of the treasures of the cathedral
were either destroyed or plundered. Only
the great bells avoided being melted down, and the Cathedral was
dedicated first to the cult of Reason, and to the cult of the Supreme
being. The church interior was used as a warehouse for the storage
of forage and food.
After falling into disrepair, a restoration program
overseen by Lassus (died 1857) and Viollet-le-Duc, was carried out
in 1845. This program lasted 23 years, and included the construction
of the spire (see image) and the sacristy.
Commune of 1871, the Cathedral was nearly burned by the Communards
- and some accounts suggest that indeed a huge mound of chairs was
set on fire in its interior. Whatever happened, the Notre Dame survived
the Commune essentially unscathed.
Now in 1991, a 10 year program of general maintenance
and restoration has begun, and sections of the structure are likely
to be shrouded in scaffolds for the foreseeable future.
During its history, Notre Dame has been the site
of numerous official and other ceremonial occasions. These include:
- 1239; The Crown of Thorns placed in the Cathedral by St. Louis
during the construction of Sainte-Chapelle.
- 1302; Philip the Fair opens the first States General here.
- 1430; Henri VI of England is crowned here.
Mary Stuart becomes Queen of France after her marriage to François
II, and is crowned here.
- 1572; Marguerite of Valoi is married to the Huguenot Henri of
- 2 December 1804; After the anointing by Pius VII, Napoléon
seizes the crown from the pontiff and crowns first himself, then
- 26 August 1944; The Te Deum Mass celebrates the liberation of
Paris. (According to some accounts the Mass was interrupted by
snipping from both the internal and external galleries.)
- 12 November 1970; The Requiem Mass of General de Gaulle is held
- 31 May 1980; After the Magnificat of this day, Pope John Paul
II celebrates Mass on the parvis in front of the Cathedral
RER: Châtelet-Les Halles, Saint Michel-Notre Dame
6, Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame
Tél. : 01.44.32.16.72
Notre Dame: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Closed on Saturday: 12.30 p.m.-2 p.m.;
Treasure: 9.30-11.45 a.m./12.30-5.30 p.m.; Saturday: 9.30-11.45
Standard : 35,00 FF
Special rates : 23,00 FF
for the visit of the towers(5,34 and 3,51 euros).
(Admission to the cathedral is free)
Closed: Treasure: Sunday, Christian feast days.