History of the Notre Dame Cathedral

The iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris was engulfed in flames most of Monday, but, according to reports, it can be salvaged.

A construction crew was in the midst of a major renovation on the historic medieval structure as the fire started, according to The Telegraph. Images of the of fire showed the cathedral consumed by billows of gray smoke and mammoth flames. As of 5 p.m. Monday, city officials said fire crews had saved the 865-year-old building from total destruction.

The fire damaged one of Paris’ most signature pieces of architecture. If you don’t know much about the cathedral, here are five important things to know about the church’s history.

The cathedral has more than one moniker.

The cathedral is also referred to as the Notre Dame de Paris, meaning “our lady of Paris” in French. The gothic cathedral is located on Île de la Cité in the fourth arrondissement of Paris.

It took more than 100 years to completely construct the cathedral.

Building of the Notre Dame Cathedral began in the 12th century, but it took about 100 years for the building's full edification, and it was updated for many years to come to add its French Gothic, Naturalism and Renaissance construction styles, according to the Notre Dame Cathedral history site.

Flames rise from Notre Dame cathedral as it burns in Paris, Monday, April 15, 2019. Massive plumes of yellow brown smoke is filling the air above Notre Dame Cathedral and ash is falling on tourists and others around the island that marks the center of Paris.

Credit: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

Credit: AP Photo/Thibault Camus

It is a popular tourist site in France.

According to tourist site Notre-Dame de Paris, the legendary place of worship is one of Paris' most visited monuments. About 13 million visitors come through to explore the classic stained windows, art and pay homage to their Christian faith.

"It is one of the masterpieces of Gothic architecture.
More than a historical monument, this cathedral is above all 'the House of God and the abode of men'," reads a statement on the tourist website. "because this edifice, living by the faith and prayer of the faithful, is charged with human and Christian experience. This place is a witness to the life of the people of God, the radiance of his charity, his fervent hope."

Mass is held at the cathedral seven days a week. Every Thursday, save for summer months, worshipers can take part in a Eucharistic adoration, a practice in the Roman Catholic church of adoring the Blessed Sacrament.

This isn’t the first major destruction the cathedral has faced.

The cathedral has faced numerous instances of damage. Namely, the building suffered considerable damage during the French Revolution in 1786, according to the Notre Dame Cathedral history site. It has been reconstructed several times since then.

It was made famous by the fictional story “Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Victor Hugo’s renowned novel “Hunchback of Notre-Dame,” published in 1831, centers around fictional character Quasimodo, a man with a back deformity who serves as the bell ringer at the Notre Dame Cathedral. The book follows Quasimodo as he falls for beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, who is also admired by many others. Quasimodo attempts to shelter his love in the Gothic cathedral from the obsession of sinister characters like Frollo. However, she is later hanged, which breaks her deformed lover’s heart.

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