NileGuide Expert Says:
The sight of its soaring arches and jewel-like stained-glass windows always lifts the spirits
Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame
tel: +33 (0) 1 42 34 56 10
NileGuide Expert tip:
Take time to examine the architecture at one of the regular concerts or organ recitals
The cathedral is the most visited religious monument in France and one of the top ten sights in Paris. Among the treasures in its vestry are relics such as pieces of Christ's cross and the crown of thorns. Although the first stones of Notre-Dame were laid on the Ile de la Cité in 1163, the cathedral took nearly 200 years to complete. One of its architects was Pierre de Montreuil, who also built Sainte-Chapelle nearby, and its distinctive features are the twin towers and the four flying buttresses that support them. The rose window at the centre of the façade dates back to about 1225, while many of the cathedral's statues were restored by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. Another of the cathedral's champions was Victor Hugo, who gave the building a starring role in his novel The Hunchback of Notre-Dame. Though its dimensions are impressive – the nave is 130m (426ft) long, 48m (157ft) wide and 35m (115ft) high - it is the building's harmony and beauty that make it memorable.