Posted on 12/21/2005

Photo taken on March  1, 2004

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Central Tympaneum of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, March 2004

Central Tympaneum of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, March 2004
Notre Dame de Paris, often known simply as Notre Dame in English, is a Gothic cathedral on the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris, France, with its main entrance to the west. It is still used as a Roman Catholic cathedral and is the seat of the Archbishop of Paris. Notre Dame de Paris is widely considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. It was restored and saved from destruction by Viollet-le-Duc, one of France's most famous architects. Notre Dame translates as "Our Lady" from French.

Notre Dame de Paris was one of the first Gothic cathedrals, and its construction spanned the Gothic period. Its sculptures and stained glass show the heavy influence of naturalism, giving them a more secular look that was lacking from earlier Romanesque architecture.

Notre Dame de Paris was among the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress. The building was not originally designed to include the flying buttresses around the choir and nave. After the construction began and the thinner walls (popularized in the Gothic) grew ever higher, stress fractures began to occur as the walls pushed outward. The buttresses were stained glass. At the end of the 18th century, during the French Revolution, many of the treasures of the cathedral were either destroyed or plundered. The statues of biblical kings of Judea (erroneously thought to be kings of France) were beheaded. Many of the heads were found during a 1977 excavation nearby and are on display at the Musee de Cluny. Only the great bells avoided being melted down, and the cathedral was dedicated first to the Cult of Reason, and to the Cult of the Supreme Being. The church interior was used as a warehouse for the storage of forage and food.

After falling into disrepair, a restoration program overseen by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus (died 1857) and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was carried out in 1845. This program lasted 23 years, and included the construction of the spire (see image) and the sacristy.

Notre Dame de Paris stands on the site of Paris' first Christian church, Saint-Étienne Basilica, which was itself built on the site of a Gallo-Roman temple to Jupiter. Notre Dame's first version was a "magnificent church" built by Childebert I, the king of the Franks in 528, and was already the cathedral of the city of Paris in the 10th century.

Notre Dame de Paris is 130 m (427 ft) long.

In 1160, having become the "parish church of the kings of Europe", Bishop Maurice de Sully deemed the current Parisian cathedral unworthy of its lofty role, and had it demolished shortly after he assumed the title of Bishop of Paris. According to legend, de Sully had a vision of a glorious new cathedral for Paris, and sketched it in the dirt outside of the original church. To begin the construction, the bishop had several houses demolished and had a new road built in order to transport materials for the new church.

Construction began in 1163, during the reign of Louis VII, and opinion differs as to whether Bishop Maurice de Sully or Pope Alexander III laid the foundation stone of the cathedral. However, both were at the ceremony in question. Bishop de Sully went on to devote most of his life and wealth to the cathedral's construction. IZ

Timeline of construction
1160 Maurice de Sully (named Bishop of Paris), orders the original cathedral to be demolished.
1163 Cornerstone laid for Notre Dame de Paris - construction begins
1182 Apse and choir completed.
1196 Nave completed. Bishop de Sully dies.
1200 Work begins on western façade.
1225 Western façade completed.
1250 Western towers and north rose window completed
1250 – 1345 Remaining elements completed
During the Paris Commune in 1871, the cathedral was nearly burned by the Communards - some accounts suggest that indeed a huge mound of chairs was set on fire in its interior. Whatever happened, the Notre Dame survived the Commune essentially unscathed.

In 1548, rioting Huguenots damaged features of the cathedral following the Council of Trent. During the reign of Louis XIV and L


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