Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame outside

Just FYI – The Cathedral is closed right now due to renovations from the fire. Keep a watch on the Notre Dame website for the most up-to-date information. It is my understanding that the opening date will be April 15, 2024, which will be exactly 5 years after the fire. Over 1 billion euros have been raised to renovate the church from all over the world. You can still see the church from the outside even if you can’t go inside so don’t miss out on the opportunity. If the fire taught us nothing it is that nothing is permanent.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame is the most famous Gothic church from the Middle Ages and is easily recognizable. Located on the Île de la Cité it was built on the ruins of two earlier churches dedicated to Jupiter. They were torn down and the foundation along with several statues was used in the construction of the new buildings. Construction on the current structure began in 1163 during the reign of King Louis VII and was finally completed in 1345.

It has been damaged several times throughout the years. During the French Revolution in the 1790s, the church was damaged and fell into neglect. This is said to have inspired Victor Hugo’s book “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”. The novel shares some of the details of the deterioration. Then in the 13th century, the cathedral was burned by a fire that ravaged parts of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Before the fire, the building towered over the city at a height of 226 feet. The spire that collapsed actually contained the teeth, bones, and hair of the cathedral’s patron saints of Paris, St. Denis, and St. Genevieve. The relics had been placed in the spire to give the building protection.

Notre Dame is the most visited monument in Paris. You might think that the Eiffel Tower would have taken that status but it is the church instead. Over 35,000 visitors come to take in this structure each day! Check out the Helpful Information box below to find out the best time to visit Notre Dame.

Notre Dame Cathedral

While you are visiting Notre Dame look in the square in front of the church at a small engraved plate on the ground. It is engraved with a compass and is known as “point zéro des routes de France” (Point Zero of French Roads). This indicates the center of Paris and from which everything is measured.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The beautiful church bells you hear ringing throughout town are not the original. During the French Revolution in 1791, most of the bells were taken down and melted to make cannonballs. New ones were installed during the mid-19th century and were replaced in 2013 with other chimes.

Notre Dame is known for its chimeras and gargoyles. The Gargoyles are actually hollow that assist in water drainage around the church. Most of these decorations have been replaced since the Middle Ages. Most have to be replaced every 150 years.

Notre Dame Cathedral

After the French Revolution, Notre Dame was extremely damaged and most of the bells were gone. It became a storage place instead of a church and fell into a degraded state. In 1804, Napoleon crowned himself the Emperor of France in the Cathedral making it a significant landmark once more. As Victor Hugo’s novel gained popularity there was an outcry to protect and preserve the structure. Renovations started in the mid-19th century thus saving this iconic building.

Notre Dame is home to priceless relics. It is said that the crown of thorns that Jesus wore during his crucifixion is here along with a piece of the Cross and a nail. You can see the Holy Relics on the first Friday of every month during certain worship events as well as Lent and Good Friday.

Helpful Information

Best Time to Visit: If you want to avoid the crowds arrive early, about 7 a.m. so when the gates open you will be the first through. Take time to journey through the crypt that shows archaeological finds from underneath the church. The last entry into the crypt is 5:30 p.m. Address: Île de la Cité in the 4th arrondissement of Paris. 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II 75004 Paris, France. The Cathedral is open from 7:45 a.m. to 6:45 p.m. The Crypt is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and costs 8 euros for each crypt, and 24 euros to view all of them.

Important Information

Gallery

Kristal Ham

Hi fellow nomads!

Traveler and Photographer

My name is Kristal and I am so happy to have you visit my site! 

I hope that the travel guides, fun facts, and photography you find here will inspire you to explore new places!

Kristal

My Personal Favorites

Next Destination

Explore

Ultimate Guide to Paris

Vermont Towns to Visit in the Fall

Things to Know Before Visiting Venice

Subscribe

stay informed!