More than 13,000,000 people visit Europe each year to view Europe’s most famous historic monument. They are intrigued by Quasimodo’s stories, the gargoyles and the tales of Quasimodo.

This masterpiece in French Gothic architecture is the 12th-century Catholic cathedral. It has a vaulted ceiling that is cavernous and one of the most impressive rose windows anywhere on the continent.

It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Paris and its 69m-tall towers were the tallest structures in Paris until the completion of the Eiffel Tower in 1889.

It was partially sacked by 16th-century zealots, and many of its treasures were destroyed during the atheist French Revolution. However, it remains one of the most important churches in the world. In 1804 Emperor Napoleon coronated there. 

A view of the middle-age stained glass rosace on the southern side of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral

The view from the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral’s southern side shows the middle-age stained-glass roseace

The foundation stone of the first structure was laid before Pope Alexander III in 1163. Building work for it was completed in 1260. 

A new technology was used to construct the roof of the nave’s nave: the rib vault. Crossed ribs supported the roof of the nave. They divided the vaults into sections. The use of rib vaults with four rather than six parts meant that the roofs could be stronger.

After the original structure was completed in the mid 13th century – following the consecration of the High altar in 1182 – flying  buttresses had been invented, and were added to spread the weight of the mighty vault.

It is believed that the original spire was built in 13 century. Over five centuries it was damaged, weakened, bent, and eventually removed by wind. 

It was rebuilt with new oak and lead during a restoration in the 19th century. The entire structure weighed approximately 750 tons. 

There were three relics at the summit of this spire: a little piece of Crown of Thorns found in the treasury of Cathedral, and the relics of Denis, Saint Genevieve and Saint Genevieve. These are Paris’ patron saints. These relics were put there by Archibishop Verdier in 1935 to safeguard the congregation from lightning damage.

The Crown of Thorns is one of the greatest relics of medieval Christianity. Louis IX, the king of France in Constantinople, purchased the Crown of Thorns for 135,000 livres, almost half of France’s annual expenses. 

This elaborate reliquary, in which only one of three thorns are housed, is located in the Cathedral after it was moved from Saint-Chappelle in Paris. The thorn is mounted on a large sapphire in the centre.

Also, the cathedral holds the crown. It is normally open to the public on Good Friday which falls at the beginning of the week.

Notre-Dame de Paris is home to the relic accepted by Catholics the world over cathedral. The holy crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ during the Passion

Notre-Dame de Paris houses the Relic that is accepted worldwide by Catholics. Jesus Christ wore the holy crown of thorns during His Passion.

During the 1790s with the country in the grip of atheist Revolution the cathedral was desecrated and much of its religious iconography destroyed. It was rededicated to the Cult of Reason and 28 statues of biblical kings – wrongly believed to by French monarchs – were beheaded. The great bells almost went out of control.

Napoleon gave the cathedral back to the Catholic Church in 1804, and was then crowned Emperor. However, much of this iconic structure had fallen apart by the end of the 19th Century.

The public’s interest in the building was revived only after Victor Hugo’s 1831 novel, The Hunchback at Notre Dame, came out. 

The first major restoration project in history was initiated in 1845. It took more than 25 years to finish. 

Architects Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Lassus and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc won the commission. 

The cathedral would be destroyed again in 1944. During the liberation, small bullets were used to cause minor damage to medieval stained glasses. 

It would also be modernized with new designs. 

In 1963 France’s Culture Minister, André Malraux, ordered the cleaning of the facade of the cathedral, where 800 years worth of soot and grime were removed. 

Notre Dame has a crypt, called the Crypte archéologique de l’île de la Cité, where old architectural ruins are stored. They date from the first settlement of Paris up to today. 

There are 10 bells in the cathedral. The heaviest, known as the boudon (13 tonnes), is the Emmanuel. It has been rung for many historic events. 

To mark the close of both the First and Second World Wars, the bell was rung. 

The bell is also used to indicate tragic events, such as French heads dying or the attack on New York’s Twin Towers by terrorists in 2001.  

Three stained glass rose windows, the crown jewel of the cathedral’s exterior are its most distinctive feature. These windows were made in Gothic style, between 1225-1270. 

Although most of the original glasses are long gone, there is some glass that remains. It dates back to about the fourth quarter of the 12th Century. 

Rest of the windows were restored during the 18th century. 

There are 94 medallions that make up the south rose. They are set in four concentric circles. 

These depict scenes from Christ’s life and the people who loved him, while the inner circle has 12 medallions that represent the apostles. 

French Revolution: Rioters set fire to residence of archbishop around side of cathedral. South rose also damaged. 

One of the cathedral’s first organs was built in 1403 by Friedrich Schambantz but was replaced in the 18th century before being remade using the pipe work from former instruments.

Another Catholic relic can be found in the Cathedral. It is a single tooth from the crown thorns a Jesus used to wear on his cross.