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Discovering Notre Dame: Your Ultimate Guide

Notre Dame Paris TicketsNotre Dame Cathedral

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Book Your Tickets to the Notre Dame Paris Exhibition

Tickets to Notre-Dame de Paris Exhibition at City of Architecture & Heritage
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Notre Dame Outdoor Walking Tour with Cathedral's Crypt Entry
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1 hr.
Guided Tour
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Combo (Save 17%): Notre-Dame de Paris Exhibition Tickets + Seine River Cruise or Hosted Eiffel Tower Summit Tour
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Audio Guide
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€22.50
Notre Dame and the Islands Guided Walking Tour
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2 hr.
Guided Tour
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What is the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Notre Dame Cathedral is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Begun in 1163 and completed in 1345, the cathedral is renowned for its soaring spires, stained glass windows, and flying buttresses. It is also home to several important religious relics, including the Crown of Thorns, believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ during his crucifixion.

Notre Dame has been the site of coronations, royal weddings, and other important events in French history. You may also recognize it from numerous works of literature and art, including Victor Hugo's classic novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

While temporarily closed and under reconstruction owing to the 2019 fire, the cathedral is scheduled to reopen to the public in 2024. As one of the most iconic landmarks in Paris, it is still a must-see for any visitor. 

Quick Facts About the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral
  • Official name: Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral
  • Location/Address: 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France
  • Date of opening: 1189
  • Timings: Currently closed for renovations, but the exterior is open to visitors.
  • Architect: Maurice de Sully, Jean de Chelles, Pierre de Montreuil, and others
  • Architectural style: Gothic
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Yes (declared in 1991)
  • Number of visitors per year: Over 12 million visitors per year (pre-fire)
  • Function: Catholic cathedral

Plan Your Visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Location
Best time to visit
Notre Dame de Paris cathedral during golden hour

Even though Notre Dame's interior is under renovation right now, don't fret! The exterior still serves up spectacular views. For an extra dose of magic, catch it during the golden hour, right before the sun dips below the horizon, bathing it in soft, warm light. If you're an early bird, mornings offer a quieter experience.

To make the most of your viewing adventure, check out prime spots like the iconic front facade at Parvis Notre-Dame, a unique angle from Pont Saint-Michel on the Left Bank, or the rooftop terrace at Sainte-Chapelle next door.

For a picture-perfect Parisian moment, take a leisurely stroll through the enchanting Jardin du Vert Galant at Île de la Cité's western tip. It promises extra mesmerizing views that'll leave you awe-struck.

What was Inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

The Nave

The Nave

The nave is the main body of the cathedral, where most of the religious services were held. It’s highlighted by soaring columns and arches.

The Choir

The Choir

The choir is the area of the cathedral where the clergy and choir sing during religious services. It’s located behind the nave, and a rood screen separates it.

Transepts

The Transepts

The two arms of the cathedral that cross the nave at right angles. They’re often used for chapels and other special areas.

Notre Dame Paris - Apse

The Apse

The semi-circular end of the cathedral where the altar is located. It is often decorated with elaborate stained glass windows.

The Rose Windows

The Rose Windows

The Notre Dame Cathedral is famous for its three rose windows, made of thousands of pieces of colored glass, depicting Biblical scenes. They’re located on the west, north, and south façades.

Gargoyles

The Gargoyles

The gargoyles of the Notre Dame Cathedral are some of the most iconic features of the building. They were used to drain rainwater from the roof. 

The Statues & Artworks

The Statues & Artworks

The Notre Dame Cathedral is home to a vast collection of statues and artworks, including the famous Pieta by Nicolas Coustou.

The Tombs

The Tombs

The Notre Dame Cathedral is the burial place of many French kings and queens, including Louis IX, Philip III, and Charles IV.

History of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Notre Dame Cathedral, one of the world's largest Catholic churches, began construction in 1163 under King Louis VII's rule, mostly completed by 1345. 

The cathedral saw significant historical events, including the coronation of King Louis IX in 1250, the crowning of King Henry VI of England as King of France in 1431, and King James V of Scotland's marriage to Madeleine of France in 1537. 

It faced turmoil during the French Revolution in 1793, when it was vandalized and looted, leading to the destruction of many religious statues and artworks. It was here that Napoleon Bonaparte declared himself Emperor of France in 1804. 

The Notre Dame bells have marked significant historical moments, such as the end of World War I and the death of Charles de Gaulle. In 2019, a tragic fire devastated the cathedral's roof and spire and it's currently undergoing construction with an expected completion in 2024.

Who Built the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

The exact identity of the architect who designed the Notre Dame Cathedral is unknown, but it is believed to have been a team of architects working under the supervision of Bishop Maurice de Sully.

Architecture of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Architecture of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Notre Dame is a classic example of French Gothic architecture. Its design is characterized by its soaring heights, pointed arches, ribbed vaults, and intricate stained glass windows. The cathedral is also known for its iconic west façade, which features three ornate portals and a pair of rose windows.

Other notable architectural elements of Notre Dame include its flying buttresses, which help to support the weight of the vaulted roof, and its gargoyles, which are grotesque sculptures that drain rainwater away from the building. The 2019 fire severely damaged the roof and spire of Notre Dame. However, the main structure of the cathedral survived.

Additional Information on Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

cathedral's bells
  • The cathedral is home to a forest. The cathedral's roof is supported by a massive wooden frame, which is made up of over 1,300 beams. Each beam is made from a single tree, and the forest is estimated to be over 800 years old.
  • The cathedral's bells have been used to announce important historical events, such as the end of World War I and the death of Charles de Gaulle.
  • The cathedral is home to several important religious relics, including the Crown of Thorns and a piece of the True Cross.
  • The cathedral has been featured in many works of literature, film, and art, including Victor Hugo's novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame and the Disney film based on the novels
  • The cathedral's gargoyles are not just decorative. They also serve a practical purpose: draining rainwater from the roof.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

What is the Notre Dame in Paris?

The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an iconic masterpiece of Gothic architecture, known for its soaring spires, stained glass windows, and rich history.

Is Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris open to the public now?

No, the Notre Dame Cathedral is closed to the public due to renovations. However, it is expected to reopen in 2024.

Where can I buy tickets for Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

You can purchase tickets for the special exhibition online.

Why is the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris famous?

Notre Dame Cathedral is famous for its Gothic architecture, historical significance, religious relics, and cultural prominence. It's a symbol of Paris and has featured in literature and art, such as Victor Hugo's "The Hunchback of Notre Dame."

Why should I visit Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

Visiting Notre Dame offers a chance to appreciate stunning architecture, view religious relics, and explore historical and cultural significance in the heart of Paris, despite the ongoing renovations.

When was Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris built?

Construction of Notre Dame Cathedral began in 1163 and was mostly completed by 1345.

Who founded/created the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

The exact architect is unknown, but it is believed that a team of architects worked under the supervision of Bishop Maurice de Sully.

What is Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris used for today?

Notre Dame Cathedral primarily serves as a Catholic place of worship and a popular tourist attraction. It also hosts special events and cultural activities.

Where is the Notre Dame Cathedral located in Paris?

Notre Dame Cathedral is located on the Île de la Cité, an island in the Seine River, at 6 Parvis Notre-Dame - Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris, France.

What can I see inside the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

Inside, you can explore the nave, choir, transepts, apse, famous rose windows, gargoyles, statues, artworks, and the burial place of French kings and queens.

How much time do you need at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

You can explore the exterior and appreciate the cathedral's beauty in an hour or two.

How big is the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris?

Notre Dame de Paris is 128 meters long, 48 meters wide, and 35 meters high.