The Monuments of Paris – Notre Dame

Beside being the home address of Quasimodo—literature’s best known hunchback and bell ringer—Notre Dame is also home to Point Zéro, the center of Paris.

The Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris

Arguably the most beautiful Gothic cathedral on the planet, Notre Dame (out of necessity since the walls began to bow as they grew taller and taller) was one of the first to use the flying buttress. And what took almost 200 years to build was nearly lost many times during the next 700.

Notre Dame Difficult History

In fact, it’s miraculous that the building even exists at all considering its history:

  1. • Overtaken by rioting Huguenots (displeased with the Council of Trent) in 1548.
  2. • “Redecorated” by both Louis XIV and XV (who destroyed tombs and removed stained glass).
  3. • Plundered and rededicated to “The Cult of Reason” by revolutionaries in 1793 (who replaced the Virgin Mary with Lady Liberty).
  4. • Almost torn down by city bureaucrats (until Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel Notre Dame de Paris, starring Quasimodo, brought awareness to its plight).
  5. • Set afire by the Communards in 1871.
  6. • Slightly shelled in 1914.
  7. • Partially burnt in 2019 – see the French fire vocabulary
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A Quote From Notre Dame de Paris

And the cathedral was not only company for him, it was the universe; nay, more, it was Nature itself. He never dreamed that there were other hedgerows than the stained-glass windows in perpetual bloom; other shade than that of the stone foliage always budding, loaded with birds in the thickets of Saxon capitals; other mountains than the colossal towers of the church; or other oceans than Paris roaring at their feet.
—Victor Hugo, Notre Dame de Paris, 1831

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More articles in this series:

The Monuments of Paris — L’Arc de Triomphe
The Monuments of Paris — L’Avenue des Champs-Elysées
The Monuments of Paris — L’Obélisque de Luxor
The Monuments of Paris — La Madeleine
The Monuments of Paris — L’Opéra
The Monuments of Paris — Le Moulin Rouge
The Monuments of Paris — Le Sacré-Coeur
The Monuments of Paris — Le Louvre
The Monuments of Paris — Notre Dame
The Monuments of Paris — La Tour Eiffel
The Monuments of Paris — Père Lachaise Cemetery

Christopher Measom

Christopher Measom combines his love of history, art and travel to create books like "Paris: Wish You Were Here" and "The Little Big Book of Ireland". He spends most of his time in New York (an artsy historic place) working on all kinds of books for Night & Day Design.

More Articles from Christopher Measom


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