Cathedral Notre Dame in Paris – Three centuries of hard work

The construction of The cathedral Notre Dame

On October 12, 1160 Maurice De Sully was elected bishop of Paris. This city is located as the political capital of a developing economic center and a high-rise intellectual training.
This new bishop proposes from the beginning of his election the creation of the reconstruction of a cathedral church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This project involves a gigantic urban project with the demolition of the old Saint-Etienne, the installation of a forecourt, the boring of the Rue Neuve-Notre-Dame which allows easy access to the cathedral, reconstruction of the Episcopal Palace and of the Hotel Dieu.
The laying of the first stone of Our Lady was made in 1163 in the presence of Pope Alexander III.

Four major campaigns marked the twelfth – early thirteenth century
under the direction of four prime contractors:

– 1163-1182: construction of the choir and its double ambulatory. The main altar of the choir is dedicated May 19, 1182 by Henri de Château-Marçay, pontifical legate assisted by Bishop Maurice de Sully. (1st prime contractor).

– 1182-1190: construction of the last three bays of the nave, aisles and tribunes. (2nd master builder).

– 1190-1225: construction of the foundations of the facade and the first two bays of the nave, connection of the two bays to the elevated facade to the gallery of kings. (3rd master builder).

– 1225-1250: high gallery and the two towers on the facade, modification and enlargement of the high windows and arrangement of the side chapels of the nave between the buttresses of the flying buttresses (4th master builder).

Picture of the cathedral by day

Picture of the cathedral by day

The work of the architects of the end of the 13th – early 14th century on the cathedral

The names of the master builders are well known: Jean de Chelles, Pierre de Montreuil, Pierre de Chelles, Jean Ravy and Jean le Bouteiller.
Widening of the transepts’ arms: North cross (Cloister portal and North rose) and South cross (Saint-Etienne portal and South rose). Arrangement of the chapels of the choir and the chevet between the foothills. Installation of large flying buttresses of the choir and the bedside of 15 meters of flight. Erection of the rood screen and a historiated stone fence around the choir and the sanctuary.

The cathedral Notre Dame modifications of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Redevelopment under the direction of Robert de Cotte sanctuary and choir to fulfill the Vow of Louis XIII. This includes the restoration of the South Rose, the replacement of the 12th and 13th century stained-glass windows with white panes in the middle of the 18th century by the Le Vieil brothers.

Works of the architect Soufflot:
– new sacristy;
– Redevelopment of the Central Portal.

During the revolutionary period:
– Dismantling of the 13th century spire;
– Destructions of the 28 statues of kings of the gallery of kings;
– Destruction of all the great statues of the portals with the exception of the Virgin of the trumeau of the gate of the Cloister.


Picture by night on a canal bridge

Picture by night on a canal bridge

By Auriane Rozan