amazing 12 million people visit the cathedral annually, making it the most visited monument
in Paris. With construction beginning in 1160 under the watchful eye of Bishop Maurice de
Sully, it would take exactly 100 years for the building to be finished. The cathedral is
consecrated to the Virgin Mary and considered to be one of the finest examples of French
Gothic architecture. Notre Dame's most notable features include one of the world's largest
organs and its immense church bells.
Throughout the 1790s, Notre-Dame suffered desecration during the French Revolution with
much of its religious imagery being damaged or destroyed. During the 19th century, the
cathedral was the site of the coronation of Napoleon I and funerals of many Presidents of
the Republic. Interest in Notre Dame Cathedral was re-kindled during the early-1830s with
the publication of Victor Hugo's book "The Hunchback of Notre-Dame". The result of this
renewed interest was a major restoration project between 1844 and 1864, supervised by
Eugène Viollet-le-Duc. In 1944, with the liberation of Paris secured, the event was marked
in Notre Dame with a celebratory singing of the Magnificat. Starting in 1963, the
cathedral's façade was cleaned of centuries of soot and grime. Between 1991 and 2000
another cleaning and restoration project was carried out.
While undergoing renovation and restoration, the roof of Notre-Dame caught fire on the
evening of 15 April 2019. Burning for around 15 hours, the cathedral sustained serious
damage, including the destruction of the flèche (the timber spire over the crossing) and
most of the lead-covered wooden roof above the stone vaulted ceiling. Speaking shortly
after the fire was extinguised, French President Emmanuel Macron stated, when speaking of
the intrinsic meaning of Notre Dame de Paris to the French people, “This is the place where
we have lived all of our great moments, the epicenter of our lives,” he said. “It is the
cathedral of all the French.” It is expected to take years to re-build.
Take a look back at images of Notre Dame de Paris during the 19th century.