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La Victoire de Samothrace, Unknown, 190 BC

Notre Dame

12th century

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Notre Dame cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture.

Her construction began in the 11th century and took 200 years to complete.

At the time, medieval Paris was growing in size and importance.

A new and ambitious bishop, Maurice de Sully, wanted to build a cathedral to host his rapidly growing congregation and compete with other influential cities and abbeys.

He chose the flamboyant Gothic style - a new architectural style recently tested at the royal abbey of Saint-Denis, just outside of Paris.

Notre Dame was the largest religious building in the Western world - measuring a massive 120 x 40 x 70m.

She towered above Parisian buildings and remained the highest building in Paris until the construction of the Eiffel Tower in 1889!

The esplanade in front of the cathedral was initially full of editors, book sellers and butchers - which were demolished to make space for the cathedral.

The nearby bridge, the Pont-aux-Changes, was created to bring in the raw materials.

Fun fact : the compass carved in stone in front of the cathedral is the "Point Zero" of Paris, its official centre, from which all distances from the capital are measured.

Medieval criminals were also chained to a wooden post at this spot, carrying signs explaining their crimes.

La Joconde, de Vinci (1519)

Next:

The Poor Man's Bible

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