One of the most legendary religious buildings in the world hides many unique stories!
Paris’ Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most visited monuments in the French capital. It is estimated that the church has been visited by tourists more often than the Eiffel Tower since the tragic fire. The cathedral took 180 years to build, and thousands of people participated in the work. It is estimated that about 13 million tourists visited the church annually. Under a 1905 law, Notre Dame is owned by the French state, but the Catholic Church can use it for life.
In 1710, during the construction of an underground crypt, a carved column dating back to the time of Tiberius was discovered. This means that rumors that there was a Gallic-Roman temple in honor of Jupiter at the site of the cathedral in pre-Christian times may be true.
For hundreds of years Notre Dame Cathedral has been a participant in the most important historical events, not only for Paris itself, but also for the whole country. Among numerous coronations, weddings, funerals or solemn masses, historic events took place within its walls, such as the coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804. For this solemn event, Napoleon invited Pope Pius VII to Notre Dame Cathedral, but at the last minute, after the papal anointing, he placed the crown on his head himself and then crowned his wife Josephine, thus showing his superiority over the patriarch.
The cathedral’s distinctive towers were built separately and were constructed as the last largest elements of the entire building. The first to be built was the northern tower, on which work took 20 years. The south tower is slightly larger and was built over 15 years. Both are 69 meters high and until the Eiffel Tower was the highest structural point in Paris.
Another important element of Notre Dame Cathedral is its historic bells. There are a total of 10 of them in both towers. Several smaller ones were placed on the spire, but this was destroyed in a fire in 2019. Each of the bells has a name. The largest, Emmanuel, was given to the cathedral by Louis XIV, weighs 13 tons and is the second largest church bell in France. The bell is rung only on a few church holidays and during major events for France and the world.
Notre Dame Cathedral’s popularity has been added not only by its historic nature, but also by its numerous depictions in popular culture. The first such high-profile use of the cathedral can be dated to 1831, when Victor Hugo’s novel “The Cathedral of the Virgin Mary in Paris” was published. Quasimodo lived to see its own adaptation in Walt Disney’s animation, and to this day remains one of the most famous fairy tales from the American studio. This year will see the premiere of a feature film telling the story of the 2019 cathedral fire, the heroic struggle of firefighters and the extraordinary feat of French fire department chaplain Jean-Marc Fournier, who saved the priceless relics of the crown of thorns, as well as the Blessed Sacrament.
main photo: unsplash.com/Marcel Strauß