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Notre-Dame de Paris, FRA
Notre-Dame de Paris – France
The Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral is one of the most beautiful churches in Paris, a Holy place of worship, and a premiere tourist attraction. It is ideally situated right on the banks of the Seine River and in the eastern half of the Île de la Cité in Paris, France. It is both a major tourist hotbed and the Parisian archbishop's place of residence for the Roman Catholic Church.
The land occupied by Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) has a long history of worship. It replaced the simpler and smaller Saint Etienne Basilica in 1163 due to Bishop Maurice de Sully's demand for a grandiose building. The recognizable west front of the building (with its distinctive towers) began construction much later circa 1200. Like many long-term projects, the building had many architects and builders throughout the construction so the style of the west front changes considerably with increasing height. Construction was not completely finished until 1345, some 200 years later.
The Notre-Dame de Paris had been looted and sacked during the French Revolution in the 18th century. Most of the present day cathedral is the result of the famous architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc's restoration efforts that began in 1845 and lasted for two decades.
Though the entire structure is an ancient masterpiece, it is the west font of the cathedral that most people recognize. On either side of the front there are two 228-foot towers that rise sharply toward the sky. The south tower houses the cathedral's 28,000-pound "Emmanuel" bell cast in 1631. Connecting the two towers is the Grand Gallery that houses the cathedral's infamous gargoyles.
Stained glass is a major feature of the west front. The 'Rose Window" is a massive and intricate window prominently located in the center of the front. It is about 10 meters in diameter and dates back to the 13th century.
The King's Gallery houses a line of about thirty statues representing Kings of Judah and Israel and were personally designed by Viollet-le-Duc to replace statues destroyed by French Revolutionaries. Each of the three massive portals along the front depicts a scene from the life of the Virgin Mary.
While you may not be interested in worship at Norte-Dame, you should definitely stop by to catch a glimpse of this ancient structure, as it's truly one of a kind.