Visitors Information: The Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris

The Notre Dame Cathedral is located in the 4th arrondissement on the islet of the Île de la Cité in the middle of the Seine river. This cathedral is considered to be the best example of French Gothic architecture. This cathedral also houses two organs: the great organ features 8,000 pipes) and the choir organ (2,000 pipes). Building of the Cathedral began in 1163, and continued till 1240, where it remained pilgrimage destination. The Notre Dame Cathedral supposedly houses

  • a fragment of the True Cross
  • the Holy Nails
  • all the Instruments of Passion
  • relics of varied saints
In 1548, the Huguenots (members of the Protestant Reformed Church of France) rioted, destroying various images within the church they thought idolatrous. These included a number of sacred relics, many of which survive today.

The Notre Dame Cathedral endured pillaging and desecration during the French Revolution in the 1790s. The authorities at the time attempted to prohibit religion, and hence rededicated the Cathedral to the Cult of Reason, which was later renamed as the Cult of the Supreme Being. One of the most contentious renovation stages began in 1845, spanning 25 years, and included the construction of the spire, as well as the installment of the Galerie des Chimeres (Gallery of the Chimeras). The latter rises above the principal entry, and was installed to give the Cathedral a medieval appearance. There are many grotesque creatures depicted, partially to remind people that all creatures of god are worthy of everyone's love and admiration. Restoration of the damage done during World War II, such as the broken stained glass windows, are still in progress. There are lovely gardens to the sides and back of the Cathedral and it's fronted by a wide, open plaza with benches.

Visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral

Free tours are provided on week days by visiting youths of different countries every summer (they're known as the Communautes Internationales d'Accueil. These tours are available in English, Spanish, Italian, Polish, and Russian. The {schedule|agenda} changes, but the meeting point is consistently behind the throne inside the Notre Dame Cathedral. The Cathedral also puts on Night Shows for the price of a donation. These operatic performances are set against a giant screen placed and light is projected onto this screen. Performances are held every Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm. Classical music concerts are also played frequently at the Cathedral, and music lovers will surely enjoy the Angelus which is sung every morning, including the Magnificat during Vespers. Every day ends with the singing of the four Marian Antiphonies: the Salve Regina, the Regina Caeli, the Alma Redemptoris Mater, and the Ave Regina Caelorim. Entrance is free and the masses are held in French. The Cathedral Tower is open every day from April to September from 10 am to 6:30 pm. On weekends of June until August, it is open until 11 pm. From October to March, it closes at 5:30 pm. {Entrance|Entry} is outside {on|in} the rue du Cloitre Notre Dame. Below the Cathedral is the Crypt, accessed by a stairway opposite the cathedral in front of the Prefecture de Police (Police Headquarters). There are many historical ruins to see in the crypt, including an underground heating system that dates back to the Roman occupation of the area. Entrance to the Cathedral is free, but you'll have to buy tickets to enter the Tower, the Crypt, and the Treasury. These are managed by the Centre des Monuments Nationaux: