Back then at school, we read about the Hunchback of Notre Dame. In 1996, Disney made one movie adaptation out of the famous novel and became a hit. Soon, people all over the world got familiar with the term, including you. But do you know what Notre Dame really is beside just a famous church in Paris?
As everyone may have known, Notre Dame is a church. The English translation of its name is Our Lady, which refers to Maria, the mother of Jesus. But it is not an ordinary church, it is a Roman Catholic cathedral. Cathedral is a church which has the cathedra, the throne of an archbishop, in it. In the case of Notre Dame, it is the chair of Paris Archbishop who is in charge of the Catholic Archdiocese of Paris. It has a gothic architecture style which some consider as the best in France and Europe.
History Notre Dame Cathedral
Before Notre Dame, the Paris cathedral was Saint-Etienne, or St. Stephen, which was built in the fourth century. However, after it served as cathedral for almost 8 centuries, in 1160 Bishop Maurice de Sully decided that the church did not suffice anymore to become a cathedral for a big city like Paris. At that time, Paris was recognized as the church of the kings of Europe which definitely brought some esteem in it.
Bishop Sully wanted something glorious to represent Paris archdiocese, so he sketched himself the new cathedral. After taking few houses and building new roads to transport he materials, the construction of the new cathedral was begun in 1163 under King Louis VII. It took almost one hundred years to complete all the construction of the cathedral in 1240s, but it effectively went to use in 1182 when the High Altar was consecrated. Bishop Sully himself could not see the completion of the cathedral and the overseeing was continued by Eudes de Sully, his successor.
Overall, there were four architects who oversaw the church’s construction and thus resulting in different styles found in the building. The cathedral has been damaged several times due to riots and wars and had to go under several reconstructions and restorations. One of the biggest damages was probably during World War II when several stained glass windows were hit by bullets.
The architecture style of the cathedral is the classic gothic. Yet, it is recorded as one of the first buildings that use flying buttress to support its exterior although it was not included in the original design of the cathedral. The flying buttress was added later during the construction when the thin walls started to fracture and were pushed outward as it could not withstand the stress of their high construction.
When the flying buttress was finish added, then the architect added some statues and gargoyles to enhance its appearance. They were once covered with vivid color paint although today the colors are already worn out and all you can see is the grey color of the stone. These statues and gargoyles were crafted individually and added one by one. This last construction was finally completed in 1345.
Organs, as we can see, are inseparable parts of old churches. They served a more important purpose than today’s modern organs or other musical instruments used in churches. Therefore, they are always interesting to look upon.
There are several organs that have been installed in Notre Dame cathedral. The first one was made by a distinguished organ maker François-Henri Clicquot and was installed in the 18th century. In the 19th century, the organ was rebuilt and expanded by another organ maker Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. In 1992, a two-year restoration for the organ that has 7.800 pipes, 111 stops, five 56-key manuals and a 32 key pedalboard was completed.
There are five bells in Notre Dame of Paris located in different parts of the cathedral. The biggest one is Emmanuel, a really big bell with over 13 tons weight which was used to mark the hours and church services. With the advancement of the technology today, the bells are not rung manually anymore, but with electric motors. However, when it was discovered that the ringing of all the bells can threaten the cathedral’s structure, they were taken out of service.
Notre Dame Cathedral Address
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
6 Place du Parvis Notre-Dame, 75004 Paris, France