We are still visiting la Cité. This time we will France’s most popular monument, beating even the Eiffel Tower with 13 million visitors each year.
Construction ot the cathedral began in 1163. The towers were finished around 1245 and the cathedral was finally completed around 1345. Almost two hundred years!
In 1793, the cathedral fell victim to the French Revolution. Many sculptures and treasures were destroyed or plundered; the cathedral was rededicated to the Cult of Reason and later to the Cult of the Supreme Being. Lady Liberty replaced the Virgin Mary on several altars. The cathedral also came to be used as a warehouse for the storage of food.
Look at the row of 28 kings, right above the three portals, the King’s Gallery. Poor guys, they were all decapitated!
It is a line of statues of the 28 Kings of Judah and Israel, which was redesigned by Viollet-le-Duc to replace the statues destroyed during the French Revolution. The revolutionaries mistakenly believed the statues to be French kings instead of biblical kings, so they decapitated them. Some of the heads were found during a 1977 excavation nearby and are now on display at the Museum of the Middle Ages.
The restoration program was initiated in 1845, overseen by architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc. The restoration lasted 23 years, and included the construction of a spire.
The Galerie des Chimères or Grand Gallery connects the two west towers, and is where the cathedral’s legendary gargoyles (chimères) can be found. The gargoyles are full of Gothic character but are not medieval – they were added during the 19th-century restoration.
I love taking pictures of the gargoyles, and it will be fun to show them to my students. Just look at those monsters:
Aren’t they cute!!! Especially this one:
Notre Dame Cathedral is a major location in the films The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Hunchback of Notre Dame II. It is here where Quasimodo has lived all his life. On the steps of Notre Dame, Judge Claude Frollo killed Quasimodo’s mother. This restaurant knew how to use Victor Hugo’s story: