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The east end dates from the Rayonnant period of the 13th and 14th centuries, and features dynamic single-arched flying buttresses.
The Cathedral of Notre-Dame is a hallmark of Paris and an outstanding example of Gothic architecture. It stands on the ruins of a Roman temple of Jupiter, a Merovingian church, and a Carolingian cathedral.
Famous masters and architects who worked on Notre-Dame include Jean and Pierre de Chelles and Pierre de Montreuil, who transformed Notre-Dame into a High Gothic structure between 1235 and 1270; and Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, who undertook extensive renovations during the 19th century.
The north and south transept facades, dating from the 13th century, are famous for their rose windows. Their size - 13 m (42 1/2') - and lightness evidence rapid advances in architecture made at that time.
Initiated by Bishop Maurice de Sully, the first stone was laid in 1163 in the presence of King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III.
The apse and choir were built in 1163-1182. The nave, completed about 1200, originally featured a four-story elevation. The double-aisled plan continues across the transept, forming a double ambulatory around the sanctuary.
The 96-meter fleche, or spire, above the crossing also originated in the 13th century. The present fleche was reconstructed by Viollet-le-Duc in the 1900s.
The west facade, the main entrance facing the Place du Parvis, was completed in 1250. It consists of five major elements. The three sculpted portals depict the Last Judgment (center), the life of the Virgin (north), and the life of St. Ann with the cathedral's oldest statues dating to 1170. The Gallery of Kings holds 28 statues of the Kings of Judea and Israel. The great rose window, 30' across, forms a halo around statues of the Virgin and Child before it. The Grand Gallery is a line of ornately carved arches linking the towers. The towers rise to a height of 69 meters (226') and feature slender lancets 16 m (50') tall. The south tower holds the 13-ton bell Emmanuel, rung only on solemn occasions.
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