Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Paris a City You Will Never Forget

The names of several Paris sights create a familiar picture in many people’s minds - such as the Eiffel Tower, the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, the Pompidou Centre, the metro and the Sorbonne University to mention just a few. It does not matter whether the name of a particular site may conjure up the image of a story or the words of a song in short, thoughts of Paris brim over with history, culture, pictures and style.

Notre Dame Cathedral. One of the most popular and perhaps one of the most famous landmarks out of the Paris tourist attractions is that of the Notre Dame Cathedral. The Notre Dame de Paris is a Gothic cathedral, renowned as a fine sample of Gothic architecture and is still used today as a Roman Catholic cathedral. The creation of the building was begun by the architect Maurice de Sully in 1163. It is believed to have been completed around the year 1345.

The Notre Dame, with its striking appearance and features is a popular and renowned attraction on the Ile de la Cite. The cathedral has two wide towers, stone carvings, a 7800 pipe organ, stained glass windows, stone gargoyles and arches over its three entrances. It should be noted that an impressive view of Paris awaits those who visit and climb the Notre Dame towers.

Point zero can be found in the stone floor of the plaza and this star represents the start point from which distances in France are measured. Legend has it that one who stands on the stone star of point zero, will return to Paris in the future.

One of the most noticeable gothic features of the Cathedral is that certain aspects were placed high, such as rose colored windows or gargoyles. The intention of this feature was that so people should be looking up their attention would be facing upwards.

Over the years and even centuries, changes were forced upon the Lady of Paris. Due to differences in styles, many of the treasures and statues of the original cathedral were destroyed. The Revolution brought about further destruction. At the beginning of the 19th century, it was even considered to destroy the cathedral completely, due to its state of disrepair. However, the period of Romanticism appears to have saved the day or rather the Notre Dame. It is believed by many that the famous literary work of Victor Hugo ’Notre Dame de Paris’ (in English: ’The Hunchback of Notre Dame’) played a great part in arousing the awareness of the value of the heritage of cathedral in the eyes of the French people. One could say that Hugo managed to achieve and inspire, through Quasimodo and Esmeralda, a new interest in the significance of the Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame is the location of several historical events such as the crowning of Henry VI of England as the King of France in 1431, the marriage of Mary I of Scotland to the son of the French Henry II in 1558 and the 1970 requiem mass for General Charles de Gaulle.

It should be noted that there is no payment required for entry to the building itself, however there is an entry charge for entrance to the towers.

A range of hotels offering somewhere to stay to suit varying budgets is available close to the Notre Dame. It is advisable to book your holiday accommodation in advance in order to ensure a convenient location and to avoid disappointment.

Looking at the almost endless list of places to visit in Paris, it is clear that there is certainly no shortage of fine attractions in this top European city the only problem is how to choose which of the sites to see first.


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