chapter  13
10 Pages

The Cathedral of Paris

WithWhitney S. Stoddard

In 1163 Bishop Maurice-de-Sully began construction of the Gothic Cathedral of Notre-Dame on the Île-de-la-Cité in the heart of Paris. The cathedral’s dramatic location in the center of Paris, flanked by the two branches of the river Seine and the place or parvis on the west side, has made Notre-Dame perhaps the best-known monument in western Europe. As one of the main symbols against which the French Revolution was directed, the cathedral sustained considerable damage. Nineteenth-century restorations reveal a lack of understanding of the intentions of the twelfth-century master builders. Unfortunately, drastic changes were made in the thirteenth century, altering the original character of the cathedral. Around 1225 the clerestory windows of the entire church were enlarged in width and height, and the triforium, which originally consisted of oculi between clerestory and gallery, was eliminated.