Destination: Paris
Top Ten
1 Centre Georges Pompidou
2 Les Champs-Elysées
3 La Grande Arche de la Défense
4 Les Invalides
5 Le Louvre
6 Notre-Dame
7 Orsay, Musée d'
8 Les Quais
9 La Tour Eiffel
10 La Villette
6 Notre-Dame

This masterpiece of Gothic architecture is one of Paris's most famous landmarks and one of France's most visited religious monuments.

In 1163, the Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully, launched the building of the cathedral, which took nearly 200 years to complete. One of the architects involved was Pierre de Montreuil, who also built the nearby Sainte-Chapelle. Later alterations deprived the church of its rood screen and of some of its original stained glass; its statues were mutilated during the Revolution because the Commune thought they were likenesses of the kings of France; the cathedral also lost all its original bells, except the 'gros bourdon', known as Emmanuel, which is traditionally heard on occasions of national importance. Restoration work was carried out in the 19th century by the famous architect Viollet-le-Duc and the area round the cathedral was cleared.

From across the vast square in front of the cathedral you can admire the harmonious proportions and almost perfect symmetry of the façade. The richly decorated portals are surmounted by statues of the kings of Judaea restored by Viollet-le-Duc. Above the central rose window, a colonnade links the elegant twin towers; there is a splendid view from the south tower, if you can face up to the 387-step climb.

The nave is 130m long, 48m wide and 35m high; the side chapels are richly decorated with paintings, sculptures and funeral monuments. Note the beautiful rose window at each end of the transept. The former vestry, on the right of the chancel, houses the Cathedral Treasure, which includes a piece of the Holy Cross.

Address: Place du Parvis de Notre-Dame, 75004 Paris
Phone: 01 42 34 56 10
Open: Cathedral: daily 8-7, closed Sat 12:30-2 and religious feast days; treasure: 9:30-11:30 and 1-5:30 (2 Sat), closed Sun and religious feast days; towers: 9:30-5 (6:30 in summer)
Restaurant: Choice on Left Bank (Inexpensive-Moderately priced)
Bus: 21, 24, 27, 38, 47, 85, 96
Metro: Cité, St Michel
Accessible: Good
Admission: Cathedral: free; treasure: cheap; towers: moderate
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