Notre-Dame de Paris. Hien_it

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris is world famous and one of the most recognised icons of Paris. It was built on orders of Bishop Maurice de Sully, while Louis VII was in power. Building began in 1163, the first stone was laid by pope Alexander III, and the cathedral was completed in 1345. The Notre-Dame is 130 metres long. Remarkable are the ‘unfinished’ towers which are 69 metres high. On February 27th 1805, the Notre-Dame was declared to be a basilica, an honorary title for churches in Roman Catholicism.

After the cathedral was damaged in the French Revolution, it underwent a 23-year-long restoration starting in 1845, under the command of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. This early gothic structure is built in the shape of a cross, and its treasury is said to hold three relics related to Christ: his crown of thorns, a fragment of the True Cross, and one of the nails used to crucify him. But not everyone is entirely convinced of their authenticity.

Het bijzondere uitzicht vanaf de Notre-Dame in de avond.
The view from the Notre-Dame towers at night. Corno van den Berg

In July and August, you can climb the towers on Fridays and Saturday nights until 11 pm, and you can watch the sunset from up here… Or feel the presence of the gargoyles in the dark and look them in the eyes once the sun has set. These strange mythical creatures (some are half human, half beast) give the cathedral a slightly sinister feeling and show the fears of times past.

More information: