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The Notre Dame Church, Paris

By on January 1, 2010

The city of Paris in France is home to some truly remarkable works of art and architecture. With huge historical remnants of ancient architectural designs and colossal monuments that tell stories to this day, the city is a must visit for history buffs and lovers of art and culture.

When in Paris, do not miss out on the chance to visit one of the most famous cathedrals in the entire world, The Notre Dame Church. Located on a small island called Ile de la Cite in arrondissement 4e, the church may not be the biggest in the world but is a symbol of purity and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world.

The area itself is a religious site for locals and tourists alike and is believed to be the ancient grounds for Celts. Translating to Our Lady in French, the cathedral stands in sharp contrast to the otherwise plain Romanesque style churches that can be found elsewhere in the city, with its ceiling high, stained windows and life like sculptures. Touted to be one of the first churches to be built under the French Gothic era, the cathedral is deemed to be one of the best of its kind in the world.

The significance of the Notre Dame Cathedral also lies in the fact that it houses the so called official chair of the Archbishop of Paris.

Underlying Design: Construction of the church started in the year 1163 and took almost 3 decades to be finished. Though the initial design was small and modest, with time and construction, newer ideas were implemented to make the final design colossal and exuberant.

The cathedral today is 128 meters long at its widest stretch and houses two bell towers that stand 69 meters tall. The central spire was added to the original design in the 19th century and rises to a height of 90 meters. A highlight of the construction is the presence of large windows that rise to the ceiling and beautifully stained in different shades of pink. Of these, the 13th century stained window is the largest and most impressive with a span of 13.1 meters.

Another prominent feature of the Notre Dame Cathedral is the presence of large buttresses at the entrance to the church and around the massive structure. The cathedral was one of the first buildings to accommodate flying buttresses that are almost 15 meters wide. With different figurines and statues to adorn these massive supports, these buttresses are a delight to look at and have carvings of gargoyles at places.

The western entrance to the cathedral houses various statues of the Monarchs of Israel and Judea. There are three portals in the area that signify the three symbolic events of the Last Judgment; the Madonna and Child; St. Anne, the Virgin’s mother; and Mary’s youth until the birth of Jesus.

The towers around the cathedral house huge bells and there are a total of 5 bells in Notre Dame. Of these, the most significant would be the bourdon bell named Emmanuel, located in the South Tower. Weighing in over 13 tons, the bell is struck every hour to signify the time in addition to being tolled for important events and occasions.

The other 4 bells are housed in the North Tower and are tolled for festivals and other services. A motor driven mechanism operates these bells and enables them to be rung in tune with each other with the help of external hammers.

Restoration of the Church: In the 17th century, Notre Dame suffered severe damages in the hands of French Activists and was almost destroyed. Restoration of the church began in the 19th century after which the cathedral regained its lost glory and stands to this day to mark the bygone days of the French Revolution.

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