The Cathedral of Kings: Notre Dame de Paris

The most famous gothic cathedral in the world

notre dame 300pxThe Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris is famous for being one of the most beautiful and one of the most aesthetically pleasing gothic buildings in the whole of France. An iconic symbol of Paris, it is remarkable for its unmistakable facade which is balanced between two high towers and for its gothic style, considered to be one of the architectural prototypes of its time. In fact, it was probably one of the very first buildings in the world to use flying buttresses which, in time, became one of its unique features.

The first stone was laid in 1163 at the behest of Bishop Maurice de Sully who commissioned the work from an architect whose name is still unknown today. The Cathedral of the History of France or, the Cathedral of Kings, as it is sometimes known, because the royal family returned to this building for any important events, had to wait 167 years until its completion.The works lasted for more than a century due to the damage that occurred during the French Revolution. Despite the length of time it took and the successive architects who were involved in the project, the cathedral is perfect in its proportions and in the balance of its spaces, so much so that it doesn't show at all the numerous transformations that it has undergone over the course of the centuries.

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The most famous gothic cathedral in the world continues to be one of the most visited sites in the French capital.It is, without doubt, an unmissable destination for anyone who is visiting Paris for the first time. But, it is also worthwhile for the many returning visitors who wouldn't want to miss out on seeing it again. The reasons for this are many. The first is that it makes such a wonderful display of its characteristic beauty, the magnificant perspective it provides for those who look towards it from one of the bridges on the river Seine (just a stone's throw away) and the tranquil gardens that are located in front of the rear facade where the beauty of their flowering trees frame the majestic cathedral like a painting.

The cathedral's exterior: the facade

On the cathedral's facade, the three front portals are immediately in evidence. The oldest is situated to the right, St. Anne's portal which is represented by a statue of the virgin on a throne in a style that is typical of the 12th century when sculpting techniques were inspired by works in metal. The portal to the left (known as the Portal of the Virgin) and the central portal (of the Last Judgement) date back to 1200 and the statues that you see today are larger and more intricate in comparison to what was originally there.

Above the portals, you can see the Gallery of Kings,statues that were replaced and restored in the 19th century by Viollet le Duc and Lassus after the originals were damaged at the time of the Revolution. Even higher up, are those that are situated in the Chimeras Gallerywhich unites the facade stretching between the two lateral towers. Obviously, there are also the unmissable gargoyles, monstrous creatures who were entrusted with protecting the church, her faithful and the city.


The interior of the Cathedral is split across 5 naves, it covers around 128 metres in length, 48 metres in width and around 33 metres in height. There are seven side chapels and fifteen in front of the apse. Some of the things that are utterly unmissable are: the beautiful fourteenth century rood screen with high reliefs, the sacristy and the famous Great Organ with 8,000 pipes. To better appreciate the structrual and historial beauties of Notre Dame, we would recommend visiting it with a local guide. This is the only way in which to jump the large queues at the entrace, learn about the Cathedral of the Kings most intricate details, secrets and curiosities Request an English -speaking guide in Paris now.

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