Notre Dame Cathedral facts

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Notre Dame Paris

Key facts about Notre Dame, the cathedral of Paris, visits, mass schedule, 800 year history, architecture and dimensions. It is a fact Notre Dame has around 15 million visitors yearly which is more than Disneyland Paris, the most visited theme park in Europe. Many of them are tourists who visit. Most of them are Catholics who come to pray and attend masses.

Notre Dame facts: best time to visit

Paris Notre Dame Cathedral is open every day from 8am to 6.45pm (7.15pm on Saturdays and Sundays). The best time for a visit is early in the morning, Tuesday to Friday.

Access to the Cathedral is open and free of charge every day of the year during the opening hours. There may be a queue.

Notre Dame Cathedral is not just one of the greatest Paris monuments. It is above all a catholic church, a place of christian worship and fervor. Behave accordingly.

More top Paris churches.

More top Paris monuments.

Notre Dame facts: Tower visit

The twin towers culminate at 69 meters (387 steps). The south tower houses 13 ton Emmanuel bell (picture).

The towers can be visited - April 1st to September 30th, 10am to 6.30pm (June to August, on Saturday, Sunday, 10am to 11pm) - October 1st to March 31st, 10am to 5.30pm. Last access is 45 mn before closure. Closed on January 1st, in May 1st, December 25th.

Entrance on left-hand side of the facade. Long waiting time.


Notre Dame Cathedral facts

Notre Dame facts: Crown of Thorns

According to three of the canonical Gospels a woven crown of thorns was placed on the head of Jesus during the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus. It was one of the instruments of the Passion, employed by Jesus' captors both to cause him pain and to mock his claim of authority.

In 1238, the Emperor of Constantinople, anxious to obtain support for his empire, offered the Crown of Thorns to King Louis IX of France. It was then in the hands of the Venetians as security for a heavy loan, but it was redeemed and conveyed to Paris. Louis IX built the Sainte-Chapelle, completed in 1248, as the crown's schrine in his Palace, today the Conciergerie. The relic stayed there until the French Revolution. In 1801, iy was deposited in Notre Dame.

In 1806, the Crown was transfered to Notre Dame. The crown is guarded in the Cathedral's treasury by the Knights of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and can be worshipped every first friday of the month. Details.

The Crown of Thorns is in Notre Dame
The Crown of Thorns is in Notre Dame

Notre Dame practical facts

Notre Dame is located on Ile de la Cite, the Paris island that concentrated the power of France between the 4th and the 14th century. Notre Dame is 130 meters long, 48 meters wide, 35 meters high. Its pillars have a diameter of 5 meters. The rose windows (picture) have a diameter of 10 meters.

Locate Notre Dame on Paris map. Visit Notre Dame crypt. Notre Dame detailed practical information. Paris metro: Cite station on line 4. Saint Michel station on RER B and C lines.


Notre Dame facts: Notre Dame and Ile de la Cite in 1550

Notre Dame history facts

Paris, the former Lutetia, has been evangelized from the 3rd century. Notre Dame is Paris Catholic Cathedral since the Middle Ages. Appointed bishop of Paris in 1160, Maurice de Sully decided to give the capital a cathedral worthy of France’s largest city. He wanted to build it in the style of the day, the gothic style. King Louis VII encouraged the project.

The Church, notable residents of the city, and the entire population participated in the construction: some offered money, others offered their labour, while others offered their knowledge. Construction began in 1163. Notre Dame was completed 109 years later, in 1272. During this time, many craftsmen’s guilds worked relentlessly under the supervision of seasoned architects. They all made an equal contribution to God and to Mary – Notre Dame - to whom Maurice de Sully dedicated the cathedral.

Notre Dame witnessed many historic events, including the coronation of Napoleon (painting by David - December 2nd 1804) and the Magnificat for Paris liberation in the presence of Charles de Gaulle (picture - August 26th 1944).

Portal of the last judgment of Notre Dame
Portal of the last judgment of Notre Dame

Notre Dame architecture facts

Inspired by Saint Denis cathedral, Notre Dame architecture is a marvel of Gothic art. In the 12th/13th centuries, the rib vault, flying buttress, and pointed arch were invented and allowed increasingly tall and light churches. Large stained-glass window panels beautifully lighted the interiors. Forming altogether a cross, the cathedral has a width of 48 meters, a length of 130 meters and a maximum height of 69 meters. It has a total of 113 windows.

The western facade has three portals. The central Portal of the last judgment displays sculptures showing the resurrection of the dead. An angel has a scale to weigh sins and virtues. Demons steal the souls of the sinful. These images had great weight on the faithful. The two beautiful side portals are dedicated to the Virgin Mary and Sint Anne, her mother. The large stained glass rose window of the western facade is nearly 10 meters in diameter. The north and south facades have windows of 13 meters in diameter.

Notre Dame is supported by flying buttresses
Notre Dame is supported by flying buttresses

Notre Dame Cathedral saved by a novel

At the end of the 1789 French revolution, Notre-Dame had suffered numberless injuries and mutilations. In early 19th century, the context is new: a new concordat was signed in 1801, and Notre Dame went back to Roman Catholic worship in 1802. In 1831, French Novelist Victor Hugo published the now famous novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame". PDF text. The moving description of Notre Dame in this beautiful and successful novel stirred considerable emotion. Intensive restoration work was started in 1845 by Architect Viollet Le Duc and completed in 1864.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Hunchback of Notre Dame (from Disney movie)

Notre Dame Cathedral mass schedule

Weekdays, Monday to Saturday noon
8:00 a.m. mass in the choir
9:00 a.m. mass in the choir (Except in July, August and first half of September)
12:00 p.m. mass at the main altar
5:45 p.m. Vespers service
6:15 p.m. mass at the main altar
Saturday:
5:45 p.m. First Sunday Vespers service
6:30 p.m. Sunday mass at the main altar
Sundays (all services held at the main altar):
8:30 a.m. Mass
9:30 a.m. Lauds service
10:00 a.m. Gregorian mass of the cathedral chapter
11:30 a.m. international mass
12:45 p.m. Mass
5:45 p.m. Vespers service
6:30 p.m. mass usually by the archbishop