Figures and Facts about Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
There are around 13 million people who visit the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral every year, which means this is an average of 30,000 people every day, growing to around 50,000 pilgrims and visitors who enter the cathedral on peak days.
So whether you are on holiday in Paris as a tourist or on a pilgrimage, this is one of the most popular tourist attractions with the history of the Notre Dame Cathedral being one of the main draws through its size and the medieval architecture.
Virtually everyone has heard of the Notre Dame Cathedral, especially since the Hunchback of Notre Dame novel was produced by Victor Hugo, and yet there are so many reasons to visit this famous monument in Paris, which is one of the oldest buildings in the city of lights that is still standing.
To start with, the Crown of Thorns along with other relics is held here in the Treasury museum and there is the Veneration on the first Friday of each month for believers, plus there are at least five services or Mass conducted every day and more than 2000 celebrations at the Notre Dame Cathedral every year.
However, lets take a look at some more different events that have taken place along with figures and facts of Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Notre Dame Cathedral Building
* The Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris is often affectionately referred to as The Forest because of the many wooden beams that have been used in its construction, and each of the beams came from a different tree, many of which were around 300 to 400 years old. In fact this building is made up from 1,300 oak trees that represents approximately 21 hectares of forest.
* Technically the gothic arches required sharply sloped roofs and the roof of the cathedral are at a 55 degree incline and during the 11th and 12th centuries church roofs were covered with flat tiles that came from clay deposits. However, there were no clay deposits near to Paris, so lead became the material of choice and the Bishop of Paris, Maurice de Sully willed £5000 to purchase the lead.
The nave structure supports a lead roof that comprises 1326 tiles that are 5mm thick each and weigh in at 210,000kg.
* The first spire was constructed at the transept crossing, which was a bell tower but was taken down after 1786. Yet during the restoration project overseen by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, he decided to build a second spire, but not as a bell tower and this was to be independent from the main cathedral structure.
It dominated the verdigris copper statues of the 12 apostles and being 93m in height it took 500 tons of wood and 250 tons of lead to complete it.
* The Western facade is imposing in size that combines harmony and grandeur and at the centre of the facade near the Gallery of the Virgin, there is a large rose that measures 9.6m in diameter, which was created around 1225.
* The Gallery of Kings statues were destroyed during the French Revolution, however fragments of these were found in 1977 during building works in the Chaussee d’Antin district, which is in the 9th Arrondissement close to the Opera Garnier and Galeries Lafayette. These fragments including some heads are now on display at Musee de Cluny also known as the Musee National du Moyen Age.
* On the lower level of the Western facade there are three portals, but you will find that these are not identical as they were constructed at different times. The central Portal is called the Portal of the Last Judgement and is taller than the other two.
To the right of this or South is the Portal of Saint Anne, which was the first one constructed and to the left or North is the Portal of the Virgin that came next and the middle one was the last portal constructed.
* The Western facade has extremely impressive dimensions, as it is 63m to the top of the towers, 43m high up to the base of the towers and 41m wide.
* The Notre Dame Cathedral was one of the first buildings in the world to use the flying buttress system, even though this was not in the original plans and it only ended being designed like this due to lack of stability within the height of the structure, as the walls were bowing outwards.
You could also take one of the guided tours or enjoy a Tower visit of Notre Dame Cathedral with panoramic views over the Ile de la Cite and Paris, plus get a close up view of the gargoyles and the flying buttress system, along with being able to discover more about the architecture and the history of Notre Dame Cathedral.
The Organs at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
* The Great Organ is the largest organ in France and probably the most famous organ in the world that dates from 1401 and although there have been numerous alterations, improvements and changes that expanded it through the centuries, there are still some Medieval pipes that remain.
* Located in the stone loft above the large west portal and under the west rosette, there have been 50 permanent organists so far, although on a Sunday afternoon before the Vespers service, guest organists from all over the world are allowed to play recitals. And one of the first organists was Arnoul Greban who was the famous author of Vrai Mystere de la Passion that started playing at the Notre dame Cathedral in 1450.
* Yet Louis Vierne is probably the most famous organist who originally played at the Saint-Sulpice church in Paris, that was before he was chosen to play on the Great Organ from the year 1900, and he was the first tenured organist at Notre Dame to provide true recitals.
He continued as the main organist right up until his death in the June of 1937, and he actually died at the Great Organ from a massive heart attack whilst performing his 1,750 concert, which was his life long wish.
And you will be able to discover many of his music notes on display the Musee de Notre Dame museum in Paris.
* After the work initiated by Eugene Viollet-le-Duc and conducted by the famous organ builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll in 1868, the organ became a full symphonic organ with 86 stops on 5 keyboards and a pedal board.
Today, this impressive musical instrument just called the Great Organ of Notre Dame has 56 notes, a 32 note pedal board, 111 registers, the 5 keyboards, 109 ties and an incredible 1,840 pipes, plus was restored in the 1990s to regain the symphonic sounds created by Cavaille-Coll.
* The Choir Organ has two keyboards, one pedal board, 30 ties and 1,840 pipes.
The Bells at Notre Dame Cathedral
* The South Tower is home to the grand Emmanuel Bell that dates from the 15th century, which was recast in the year 1681 upon the request of King Louis XIV, who also gave the bell its name. The gand Emmanuel Bell weighs in at 13 tons and is tuned to F Sharp.
But there also used to be a second bell named Marie, yet this was melted down during the French Revolution, however a new drone bell, which again will be named Marie will take its place and ring for the first time 2013.
* The North Tower originally had eight bells, but these were all destroyed during the French Revolution and then during the restoration work that was conducted in the 1800s four new bells were cast, however, again as of 2013 to celebrate 850 years of the cathedral, there will be eight bells at Notre Dame Cathedral in the North Tower, just as there were originally.
Additional Facts about Notre Dame
* It was Napoleon Bonaparte I that wanted to save the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral from destruction and he instructed two incredible architects called Jean-Baptiste Lassus and Eugene Viollet-le-Duc to oversee the complete restoration project, however when Jean-Baptiste Lassus died, the entire project was the responsibility of Eugene Viollet-le-Duc.
* In fact, Napoleon Bonaparte I was crowned Emperor in 1804 at the Notre Dame Cathedral by Pope Pius VII, and Napoleon also commissioned a reliquerie, which is a kind of shrine, for the Crown of Thorns.
* Saint Louis, who was also King Louis IX of France, obtained the Crown of Thorns along with other religious relics in 1239 and these were taken to the Notre Dame Cathedral, then placed in the newly constructed Sainte Chapelle chapel, which was the palace chapel on the Ile de la Cite island at the opposite end of the island to where Notre Dame is located.
The Crown of Thorns and the other relics eventually went back to the Notre Dame de Paris after the French Revolution and were placed in the Treasury, which is where they remain to this day.
Some events that have taken place at Notre Dame
* There have been many celebrations that have taken place at this famous historical monument in Paris over the centuries, including Henry VI of England being crown King of France in the December of 1431.
* The Dauphin Francois was son of King Henry II of France and he later became King Francois II of France, and he was married to Mary I of Scotland in a ceremony that took place at the Notre Dame Cathedral in the April of 1558.
* Henry Navarre, who later became King Henri IV of France, was married to Marguerite de Valois in a ceremony that took place in the August of 1572.
* The Te Deum has been sung for the coronation of French Kings for many centuries at the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral and a Te Deum Mass also takes place on major events such as to mark the end of conflicts like World War I.
The Te Deum Mass was also performed on 26 August 1944 to celebrate the liberation of Paris, and again at the end of World War II in 1945.
But the Te Deum also accompanies other events in history such as the funerals of the French Heads of State, and other tragedies of humanity that happen such as the Twin towers disaster on September 11th 2001, when people were united through prayer at this historic cathedral.
* The Requiem Mass for the French President General Charles de Gaulle was held on 12th November 1970 and another Requiem Mass for the 21 French President Francois Mitterrand was held in the January of 1996.
* Pope Jean Paul II visited the Notre Dame Cathedral on two separate occasions and the first was in the May of 1980 and he conducted Mass on the Parvis, or square, in front of the cathedral.
The second visit of Pope Jean Paul II was in 1997 for World Youth Day, but when he died in 2005, believers and followers came in their thousands to pray at this symbolic place. The next head of the church was Pope Benedict XVI and he has also visited the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris as well.
Dimensions of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris
* Notre Dame has a total surface area of 4,800 metres squared, the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is very impressive and has a length of 128m and the height of the spire is 96 metres.
* The width of the choir is 12m and the length is 36m, and the width of the nave is also 12m, however the height of the nave is a very impressive 60 metres.
* The side aisles measure 12m in width and 10m high, however the width of the transept is a staggering 48 metres and is 14m long, yet just as impressive is the West facade, which is an incredible 43 metres in length and us 40 metres wide.
* To finish off these amazing facts on the dimensions of Notre dame Cathedral, we cannot forget to mention that the height under the vault is 33m and the height under the roof is 43 metres.
* Also the height of the towers are 69 metres and there are a total of 380 steps up to the towers, which means this trek would definitely not be for the faint hearted, although the view from above are well worth it!
More information on Notre Dame Cathedral
- Notre Dame Cathedral
- Mass and Services at Notre Dame Cathedral
- Guided Tours of Notre Dame Cathedral
- The Bells at Notre Dame Cathedral
- Musee de Notre Dame de Paris Museum
- The Crown of Thorns at Notre Dame Cathedral
- Crypte Archeologique of Notre Dame Cathedral
- History of Notre Dame Cathedral
- Square Jean XXIII
- Place Jean-Paul II
Related photo images
- Photos of Notre Dame Cathedral
- Photos of Square Jean XXIII
- Photos of Gargoyles on Notre Dame
Address and Contact Details:
Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris
6 Parvis Notre Dame
Place Jean-Paul II
Ile de France
Tel: +33 (0) 1 42 34 56 10
GPS details: Latitude 48.853 Longitude 2.35
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