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Salt Lake Community College

Notre-Dame de Paris
The Heart of Paris

Amber Martin
ARTH 2710
Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:00pm 2:00pm
December 04, 2014

Notre-Dame de Paris: The Heart of Paris

Notre-Dame de Paris, located in Paris, France, is one of Paris most famous early gothic
cathedrals. Notre-Dame was also one of the first cathedrals to use flying buttress in its
architecture. This well know cathedral is massive and is a well-established landmark that can
be seen throughout Paris. It has survived the French Revolution, seen kings crowned and was
the basis of Victor Hugos The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.
First, the basics. Notre-Dame de Paris is a Gothic cathedral in the heart of Paris, France on the
le de la Cit. The literal Point Zero of Paris or Place du Parvis, from which all measurements in
the city are based on, is in front of the cathedral. It is constructed out of stone. It is 430 feet
long, 226 feet wide, has two towers reaching the height of 228 feet, and it also has a spire that
is 300 feet high. It has had many architects work on it, among these are Violett-le-Duc, JeanBaptiste Lassus, the restoration architects; Jean de Chelles, Pierre de Montreuil, Pierre de
Chelles, Jean Ravy, and Jean le Bouteiller, the original architects. The cathedral was first
overseen by Maurice de Sully, and then by Eudes de Sully (no relation) when Maurice died.
In 1160, Paris was the center of Christianity. However, they needed a grand building that would
architecturally represent this. Maurice de Sully volunteered and was chosen to head the
project. Right off the bat, Maurice was faced with his first obstacle: Where in Paris was he to
build this grandiose building? In 1160 Paris was a very packed city with little to no land
available. Maurice had two options. Option one, clear land in the west, however this would
involve having to first buy the land from landowners who would only raise their prices because

of the demand. Option two, build in the east where the clerical area and old cathedrals where.
Maurice de Sully chose to build in the east. So in 1163, after the partial demolition of the old
cathedral, dedicated to Saint Stephen, construction began. The cathedral was completed in
1345. During this time four unknown architects worked on the main structure of the cathedral
and latter five more well-known architects (Jean de Chelles, Pierre de Montreuil, Pierre de
Chelles, Jean Ravy, and Jean le Bouteiller) worked on and finished the cathedral. These later
architects are responsible for the large famous North and South rose windows, as well as the
first original flying buttresses that Viollet-le-Duc later add to.
After the French Revolution, the cathedral was in poor condition. All of the 28 kings in the
Gallery of Kings had had their heads broken off, many of the other sculptures on the face of the
building had also been vandalized. They also destroyed the spire and broke many of the stainglassed windows. However, the famous Rose Windows [14] survived. So the team of JeanBabtiste Lassus and Viollet-le-Duc was set to the task of restoring the cathedral. Before the
restoration had ever started Lassus died. However, he did help design the restorations that
where to be made. During the restoration, Violett-le-Duc added some of the elements for
which the cathedral is most famous for, namely the chimeras [11] in the south tower the huge
ornamental spire [12] and the addition of more flying buttresses [13].
The cathedral also houses some famous works of art. One is Les Grand Mays a series of roughly
50 paintings that were given to the cathedral every May Day. The sculpture of Notre Dame de
Paris Our lady of Paris, which is of the Virgin holding a Child. This statue has been placed on
the spot where numerous other altars to the Virgin had resided before. Also on the outside of
the build are the three portals: Portal of the Virgin, Portal of the Last Judgment, and the Portal

of Saint Anne. Each is intricately carved with numerous figures of Christianity. The cathedrals
treasury also holds some of the most famous relics: The Crown of Thorns, a fragment of the
True Cross, and one of the Holy Nails.
Notre-Dame Cathedral is a good physical representation of what is at the heart of Paris:
Christianity. Much of Paris culture revolves around Christianity. So it is only fitting that a
symbol of that foundation be such a building as the Norte-Dame Cathedral that can be seen
from anywhere in Paris. The whole building was designed with Christianity in mind. The building
serves as a meeting place for worshipers. It houses relics that pilgrims from all over come to
see. This building has seen Napoleon crowned, Christianity persecuted and restored, as well as
kings and queens getting married. No matter what, through war or revolution, Notre-Dame has
stood tall and firm as has Paris belief in Christianity.
As a result of Paris love for Christianity, many other similar cathedrals where built around the
same time and in the same style as Notre-Dame, each one bigger and more amazing than the
last. Amiens Cathedral, Reims Cathedral, and Chartres Cathedral are examples of this. Each of
these cathedrals was built with flying buttresses, large long naves, and done in the Latin Cross
architectural style. Also each of these were built in Notre Dame and as such sport the name
Notre-Dame or Our Lady in their title. Plus each of these cathedrals was built upon a pervious
cathedral that had either burned down or was demolished to build the new one. Each of these
cathedrals also have similar western facades with two towers and usually a spire seen inbetween these. [1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10]

The Cathedral of Notre Dame is one of the most famous and most visited cathedrals in the
world. It is a beacon of Christianity and a feat of engineering. The use of flying buttresses was
an amazing accomplishment that this cathedral is most famous for. Notre Dame is also one of
the best example of Gothic Architecture, and because of this and many other reasons has won
its place in the History of Art.
I chose to do my research paper on the Cathedral of Norte Dame because my parents went
there recently on vacation. The cathedral looked so cool and other-worldly with its skeletal
looking frame (the flying buttresses), huge spire and large size. I am glad to have had the
opportunity to look more into this cool bulding.


Erlande- Brandenburg, Alain. Notre-Dame de Paris. New York. Abradale Press. 1998
Eyewitness Travel. Paris 2014. Great Britain .Dorling Kindersley Limited. 1993, 2013
Fordors Travel. Paris 2014. United States. Random House LLC. 2015
Stokstad, Marilyn. Medieval Art: Second Edition. United States. Westview Press. 2004
Stokstad, Marilyn and Cothren, Michael W. . Art History: Volume One, Fifth Edition. United
States. Pearson Education, Inc. 2014, 2011, 2008.

Amiens Cathedral. Web. December 03, 2014.
Cathedral for Art and History. Web. November 30, 2014.
Chartres Cathedral. Web. December 03, 2014.
Notre Dame de Paris. 2014. Web. November 24, 2014.
Reims Cathedral. Web. December 03, 2014.

Reference Images









[9] Amiens

[10] Notre-Dame