43 Unbelievable Facts About The History Of Notre Dame | Kidadl


43 Unbelievable Facts About The History Of Notre Dame

Arts & Crafts
Learn more
Reading & Writing
Learn more
Math & Logic
Learn more
Sports & Active
Learn more
Music & Dance
Learn more
Social & Community
Learn more
Mindful & Reflective
Learn more
Outdoor & Nature
Learn more
Read these Tokyo facts to learn all about the Japanese capital.

The Notre Dame de Paris is one of the most recognized cathedrals in the world.

Known for its gigantic size, medieval gothic architecture, and rich historical and religious significance, it draws people from around the world. And the view of the Paris city from the top is well worth it.

The cathedral is located at eastern end of Île de la Cité, an island in the river Seine. More than 13 million come visitors to this island in Paris specifically to get a glimpse of it. What people see is a work done and preserved over a period of several centuries. Most tourists are amazed to learn about the historical facts of Notre Dame of Paris that the local tour guides tell them. The same facts are discussed in this article for you. Learn how and why the cathedral was built and some famous historical events associated with it.

The History of Notre Dame

The Notre Dame was, in some ways, built over centuries. Here's a brief history of this cathedral:

The construction project of Notre Dame started in 1163 A.D. It was conceptualized by then-bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, in 1160 A.D. during the reign of King Louis VII.

The first stone was erected in the presence of Pope Alexander III, as per the tradition. However it's unclear whether King Louis VII erected it or the bishop or someone else.

Before the Notre Dame, another Christian cathedral dedicated to Saint Stephen was on the same spot since the fourth century. It was ravaged by fire and later demolished in the eighth century to make way for Notre Dame. Before Christianity took over, there was a Gallo-Roman temple devoted to Jupiter.

The construction was done by several master builders at that time. The first builder worked on the church's eastern part from 1163 to 1182, which is the choir. It was the religious center of the edifice that was supposed to house the main altar.

The second builder completed the tribunes from 1182 to 1190.

The third builder continued the work and constructed the two bays of the nave, the routes connecting the bays, the edification of facade courses, and the statues on either side of Adam and Eve. The fourth builder completed the North and South Tower and other structures between 1225 and 1250.

The Notre Dame cathedral was mostly complete by 1245, but construction and renovation continued till mid-14th century. The North Rose Windows were built in 1250.

In 1272, the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris was completed after more than 107 years of hard work. That's where the common French saying 'to wait 107 years' come from. However, the official date of completion is 1345 A.D.

The next stage of work primarily involved expansion and maintenance.

The Gallery of Kings, which comprises 28 statues on the Western facade was completed in 1284-85.

The construction of choir chapels and apse went well into the 14th century.

In the 15th century, new bronze bells alongside the Emmanuel bell were installed in the North and South bell tower.

Major refurbishment work of the sanctuary and the choir was carried out by French architect Robert de Cotte to fulfill the vow of King Louis XIII.

The cathedral was damaged significantly during the French revolution. The revolutionaries, protesting against the ruling kings and Catholicism, destroyed all of the bells except the Emmanuel bell, which miraculously survived. The Gallery of Kings with statues of French kings was taken down too.

After the French revolution ended and Republic of France was declared, the cathedral was neglected and hence decayed. There was reduced interest in religion and fewer people cared about the state of the church. At one point, it was even used as a wine warehouse.

The new era began for Notre Dame in early 1800s when Napoléon Bonaparte I took over and became the first emperor of France. He defined the status of Roman catholic church in the country and Catholicism was practiced freely once again.

In 1831, French poet, Victor Hugo, published 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame'. It changed the negative public opinion regarding the church and bought it back into the limelight.

In 1844, a 20-years-long restoration project was undertaken by architect, Eugène Viollet-Le-Duc. It was during this time that the famous gargoyles, chimeras, and other mystic structures were constructed. He also constructed a new spire similar to that of the Orleans Cathedral.

In 1991, UNESCO recognized the cathedral as a World Heritage Site because of the Gothic architectural beauty and cultural significance.

The Purpose of Notre Dame

There were several reasons behind the construction of Paris's Notre Dame cathedral. And they changed from time to time.

The primary purpose of Notre Dame was to build a church dedicated to Virgin Mary.

Notre Dame de Paris translates to 'Our Lady of Paris' in English. Pope Alexander III chose the location to replace the church dedicated to Saint Stephen.

The cathedral was supposed to be the religious center for the city of Paris and surrounding areas. The Seine River ran through the heart of Paris and becoming a key route for transportation.

The construction was also part of a larger redesign of the eastern side of Ile-de-la-Cité.

The purpose of constructing Notre Dame cathedral was also to create the most colossal church in Europe at that time. It was indeed the taller and wider than other European and French cathedrals of its generation.

The construction of the cathedral also led to many technological breakthroughs. It was the first of its kind to experiment with flying buttresses. These are thin stones placed outside the cathedral building to support the walls and roof.

Notre Dame was also the first Gothic cathedral to have a line of chapels on the exterior.

During the French revolution, the purpose of the cathedral changed and it was used as a Temple of Reason. Parisians gathered here to create a new belief system to replace Christianity.

Notre Dame was dedicated to Virgin Mary but there are many figures inside it.

Historical Events That Happened At Notre Dame

Because of its significance, various historical events have taken place at Notre Dame de Paris cathedral since its inception.

The cathedral was the site of ceremony of royal processions for French kings and queens. Whenever the city had a new king, the royal entries were held at this place.

When Napoléon became the first emperor of France in 1804, the Coronation ceremony took place at Notre Dame. It took place in the presence of Pope Pius VII and marked the instantiation of a new French empire.

The ceremony lasted more than five hours between Mass and Coronation. The event was depicted in the renowned painting of Louvre: 'Le Sacre de Napoléon' drawn by Jacques-Louis David.

The historic event of beatification of Joan of Arc also happened at Notre Dame. Also known as 'The Maid of Orléans', she played a pivotal role in freeing France from English dominance.

For her work, she was formally canonized on 16 May 1920 at Notre Dame de Paris cathedral by Pope Benedict XV. 16 May 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the event.

Other than Napoléon Bonaparte I, the coronation of Henry VI also took place at this cathedral. He was crowned the King of England and France in 16 December 1431. He was nine months old at the time of ascending to the throne.

As opposed to Coronation of Napoleon, the Coronation of Henry VI was conducted in English tradition rather than in French tradition, which annoyed the bishops of the church. The coronation would later lead to a civil war in France.

In 1558, Mary, Queen of Scots married Francis the II at the Notre Dame cathedral. Mary was 15 while Francis was 14 at the time of marriage. The Cardinal Archbishop of Rouen conducted the spectacular ceremony.

Causes Of The Notre Dame Fire

When all was going well and okay, Notre Dame was suddenly on fire on 15 April 2019. It suffered severe damage because of the fire and the place has been closed for public viewing ever since.

The exact reason for the fire at Notre Dame cathedral is still unclear. However, investigators claim that either a burning cigarette or an short circuit might have caused the fire.

The reason, however, the fire couldn't be controlled is because of miscommunication among security personnel of the church. They couldn't locate the fire and waited for 30 minutes before calling the fire service.

The first church guard went into the wrong attic to check for fire. After finding none, he deemed the fire alarm as false. There are 160 detectors at different places in Notre dame.

When the firefighters arrived, Notre dame cathedral was already ablaze.

It took a team of 500 firefighters to contain the fire. Some of them risked their lives and went inside Notre Dame when it was close to collapsing.

Several things including the Gallic Rooster (the unofficial symbol of France) was found in the ruins of Notre Dame. However, the copper statues and other old artefacts were miraculously saved from fire.

National Geographic made a documentary on the disaster titled 'Saving Notre Dame'.

Restoration work is going on and the the Notre Dame cathedral is set to reopen in 2024.

Written By
Lydia Samson

<p>A diligent and driven mass communications graduate from Caleb University, Lydia has experience in media and a passion for digital marketing and communications. She is an effective communicator and team-builder with strong analytical, management, and organizational skills. She is a self-starter with a positive, can-do attitude.</p>

Read The Disclaimer

Was this article helpful?