The cathedral was built between 1163 and 1345. This photo was taken in 1865.
P e z i / Wikimedia Commons The famous twin towers stand at 69 meters (226 feet) and have 387 steps.
One of the world’s best known books, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, is set in the cathedral and was published in 1831 by Victor Hugo to generate appreciation for the building.
In 1804, Napoleon held a ceremony at Notre Dame to crown Pope Pius VII as emperor. But at the last minute, Napoleon snatched the crown from the pope’s hands and crowned himself.
The ruins of a Pagan City lie below the cathedral. Notre Dame was built on a piece of land once known Lutetia, a Gallo-Roman city. In 1710, an excavation beneath the cathedral uncovered a piece of an altar worshipping the God Jupiter.
CBS News / YouTube The cathedral contained one of the oldest-surviving wooden-timber frames in Paris. 52 acres of trees were cut down to build it and each beam was made of an individual tree, earning the lattice of the structure the nickname “The Forest.”
The cathedral was one of the first to use a flying buttress system (those external support beams jutting out from the walls). The structures support Notre Dame’s tall, thin walls and became a staple of architecture for a long time afterwards.
During the French Revolution, 20 of its bells were melted down and turned into cannons. The only one spared was the massive bourdon known as Emmanuel. The bells have all since been replaced, but Emmanuel only joins in the choir on special occasions.
Mohsen Vaziri / Wikimedia Commons The organ is the largest in France. The organ and all of the other valuable relics within Notre Dame — including the Crown of Thorns, which is said to have been worn by Jesus during his crucifixion — were all saved from the fire.
A hive of bees was installed on the roof of the cathedral in 2013 to promote their preservation. The honey from the bees was given to the poor. It is unclear if the hive survived the fire.
The cathedral is known as Notre Dame de Paris, which means “Our Lady of France” in French.
Notre Dame attracts about 13 million visitors each year. It is France’s most popular tourist attraction — even more popular than the Eiffel Tower.
During the French Revolution in 1793, 28 statues of biblical kings were decapitated and the heads were thrown away. A few were eventually recovered, however, and are now on display at the nearby Museé de Cluny.
Henry VI of England was made king of France inside Notre-Dame in 1431.
In 1909, Pope Pius X led the beatification of Joan of Arc. Beatification is the process of praying for a deceased person’s passage to heaven.
CBS News / YouTube Due to the hard work of over 400 firefighters, the facade and the towers were saved from the fire. “The worst has been avoided,” announced President Emmanuel Macron.
CBS News / YouTube Several of the world’s wealthiest French billionaires, including Bernard Arnault, donated more than $500 million to rebuild the cathedral.
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