Marvels of Notre Dame de Paris

Europe - Editor - 02 April 2008

Marvels of Notre Dame de Paris

Situated on the Île de la Cité in Paris, France, Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered to be among the world’s finest examples of French Gothic architecture. Notre Dame is a prominent landmark and popular tourist attraction which is still used as a Roman Catholic cathedral. The name Notre Dame is French for “Our Lady”, referring to the Virgin Mary. There are a number of cathedrals named Notre Dame in French speaking countries worldwide. However, the majority of people readily associate the name of Notre Dame with the city of Paris.

Notre Dame de Paris stands on the site of a church that Bishop Maurice de Sully, in his position as Bishop of Paris, had demolished because he considered it to be unworthy of the role of the parish church of Europe’s royalty. The new cathedral that the bishop planned to have constructed was larger that the site available, so he had nearby houses demolished, and at a ceremony in 1163, the foundation stone was laid for the construction of Notre Dame de Paris. Different architects worked on the cathedral over the construction period of 1163 to 1345. and the difference in architectural styles can be seen at various heights of the towers and west front of Notre Dame de Paris.

After several pipe organs had been installed and replaced in the cathedral because of being inadequate for the size of the building, in the early 1700s noted French builder, Cliquot, installed a pipe organ which was deemed to be suitable. Although the pipe organ was almost completely rebuilt and expanded in the 19th century, some of Cliquot’s original pipe work remains in the pipe organ that is used in the cathedral today. The current pipe organ is impressive with its 7,800 pipes, 109 stops, a 32-key pedal-board and five 56-key manuals. The much sought after position of organist at Notre Dame de Paris is considered to be very prestigious.

Emmanuel, the largest of the five bells of Notre Dame de Paris, weighs more than 13 tons. Located in the south tower of the cathedral, Emmanuel is rung every hour on the hour throughout the day. The remaining four bells in the north tower together with Emmanuel ring out across the city for various services, festivals and special occasions.

Countless notable events in history are linked with Notre Dame de Paris, and the cathedral has been the subject of, or inspiration for, many literary works, both classic and modern. Readily recognized throughout the world, Notre Dame de Paris is also the setting for a number of computer games as well as appearing in several popular films and television series.

The reference point, known as “Point Zero”, for marking distances along highways that start in Paris, is situated on a stone slab set into the cobbled paving of the square in front of Notre Dame de Paris. It is believed that travelers who stand on Point Zero will want to return to Paris time and again. With so many interesting places to explore in Paris, it is little wonder that many tourists do return time and again.


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