Notre-Dame is a symbol of Paris and the most visited site in France. This cathedral is famous for its huge towers that house enormous bells, its gargoyles and fantastic sculptures and the Hunchback!
Characteristics and history of the Notre-Dame Cathedral
Located in the 4th district, in the eastern part of the Ile de la Cité, Notre-Dame is the cathedral of the Paris Archdiocese. The construction of this iconic building lasted nearly 200 years, from 1163 to 1345. Its architecture is therefore not defined in one style as it merges primitive Gothic with rayonnant Gothic. Once completed, it was one of the largest cathedrals in the world.
Each end of the transept is decorated with a rose window of 13 meters in diameter, which are the largest in Europe. The towers and its four bells, the gargoyles and mythical sculptures are simply beautiful and constitute one of the reasons why 20 million people are visiting this site every year.
The tours to discover the site
To visit Notre-Dame and discover its wonders, several tours are offered on-site. All begin with the discovery of three portals of unequal size: the central portal representing the Last Judgment, the left portal representing the Virgin and Child, and the right portal, that of Saint Anne, evoking 3 scenes including the angel Gabriel, Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus.
A special tour offers the opportunity to explore the towers and the upper parts of the western facade. To get to the top of the southern tower, visitors need to climb 387 steps. It includes a passage in the chimera’s gallery and its famous gargoyles. A tour is also dedicated to the archaeological crypt located under the Parvis of Notre-Dame.
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Advices while visiting the site
It is recommended to visit Notre-Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle, the Conciergerie, the flower market and the Quartier Latin on the same day. Indeed, these sites are in the same area. It is best to start with Notre-Dame in the morning, as soon as it opens around 8 AM. Visiting the Cathedral, the towers and the crypt takes at least 2 hours. Then it is recommended to take a walk in the Square Jean XXII which is located right behind the cathedral.
As it is also a place of worship and pilgrimage, it becomes almost impossible to pay a visit on a Sunday and during religious holidays, including Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Assumption and All Saints’ Day. Thus, it is better to organize visits on weekdays.