Notre Dame Video

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Notre-Dame de Paris, also known as Notre-Dame Cathedral or simply Notre-Dame, is a historic Catholic cathedral on the eastern half of the lle de la Cite in the fourth arrondissement of Paris, France.

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History of Notre Dame

In the 12 century, Bishop Maurice de Sully of Paris envisioned a new Cathedral to emulate the dynamic growth and importance of the city. Religious structures had been on the site for a millennia. As the Roman Empire converted to Christianity what had been a pagan temple was replaced by a Christian basilica dedicated to Saint Stephen. That and other chapels were torn down to make way for the new cathedral. The bulk of the building took almost 100 years to complete, but construction continued well into the 14th century.

Changes to Notre Dame

However being such an important part of the culture and society of the city, the building underwent numerous alterations over the years, some well intentioned others, like during the revolution, less so. For instance, it took 10 years to clean the western facade in the early 21st century. In the 1800s, Eugene Viollet le Duc, a Gothic romantic was given the job of refurbishing the church. Oddly he restored a spire that had been a bell tower but had been removed a century earlier. Instead of a bell tower, he placed the beautiful needle-like form we see today. There were a number of bells in the towers, however all but one, the great bell Emmanuel, were destroyed in the revolution. Some of the bells have since been replaced and others may possibly follow.

Important Features of Notre Dame

The iconography of the western or front facade is focused on Mary as the virgin mother of Jesus. Her head is haloed by the famous Rose Window. The kings depicted in a line or gallery above the doors are actually the Kings of Judah, the ancestors of Jesus, underlining that Jesus was mortal. The combination pronounces Jesus dual identity as mortal and divine.

Visiting Notre Dame

Around the famous church are gardens open during the day, great for a meditative walk. It is easy to get to Notre Dame with two metro stops nearby on the Ile de La Cite itself as well as both sides of the river. For more helpful and excellent information on Paris and travel in general, check us out at About.com.

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