1 Notre-Dame Cathedral
Notre-Dame is a medieval Catholic cathedral in Paris, sitting on an island in the River Seine known as the Île de la Cité (Figure 1). Construction began in 1163 and was not finished until 1345, a total of 182 years.
It is one of the best examples of Gothic architecture in the world. Particularly outstanding are its flying buttresses (the external stone arches supporting the main body of the church), its large and brightly coloured stained-glass rose windows, and its famous gargoyles (demonic sculptured figures, originally designed to divert rainwater away from the building – see Figure 2).
In 1991, because of its unique and valuable features, Notre-Dame was recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site (among other nearby architectural wonders, including the Eiffel Tower). It is one of the most well known and frequently visited sites in the world, attracting 12 million tourists every year (Figure 3). Owing to its fame, it has become a symbol of Paris and has inspired artists and writers for many generations.